normalcy bias

Let’s Explore Normalcy Bias

Let’s Explore Normalcy Bias

Normalcy bias is a mental state people enter when faced with a disaster or a potential disaster. It’s also known as status quo bias or the ostrich effect. It means to be in denial that trouble is ahead.

Normalcy bias causes you to downplay the possibility of a disaster occurring and its possible effects. As a result, you’re in a situation where you’re not adequately prepared for a disaster.

The assumption is made that since a disaster never happed that it never will. Normalcy bias results in you being unable to cope with a disaster once it happens.

How It Causes You To React?!

Let’s explore how normalcy bias causes you to react to something when it happens.

Having a normalcy bias affects how you react to a disaster. It causes you to not be able to react to something because you have not experienced it before.

As a result, you may interpret warnings in the most optimistic way possible. For example, you may think that a disaster won’t affect you or you assume it will be ok. Having a normalcy bias causes optimism bias.

Examples Of Normalcy Bias

Normalcy bias affects different aspects of your life. It adversely shapes money mindset, how you react to a natural disaster, how you perceive the world as well as your health.

Examples Include:

Money Mindset:

Here’s an example of how normalcy bias shapes money mindset.

Let’s say you’re part of the middle class; you have a good education and a good job and you make assumptions that things in your life will always be on the up and up. As a result, you go deeper into debt and you become too comfortable at your job.

Despite all of the warnings about the economy going into a recession, you still rake up more debt. Also, you assume that the recession won’t affect you and job loss happens to other people.

The recession hits hard and you lose your job. At the time, you’re in denial that it’s happening to you and then you fall apart when reality sets in.

When reality sets in, you’re jobless and you’re in a debt trap that really hard to climb out of.

Here’s a related post: “How To Shift Your Money Mindset?”

Natural Disaster:

Normalcy bias can shape how you react to a natural disaster.

When a natural disaster is happening, it’s common for 70% of people to underestimate how big of a disaster it’s going to be. As a result, they don’t take action to get away from potential danger.

When it starts getting too dangerous to stay in one place, it’s too late to get to a safe place.

Sometimes when a big storm is in the forecast such as a tornado, some people don’t take the warning seriously. As a result, they may not take action until the tornado is about to strike them.

How You Perceive The World:

Having a normalcy bias shapes how you see the world.

Normalcy bias causes you to see the world in a naive way. For example, if there’s something disastrous happening either in your own corner of the world or on the other side of it, you’ll downplay it and convince yourself that it won’t affect you.

For example, many people think the ongoing conflict in Europe won’t affect them and they downplay the seriousness of it.

A huge aspect of this conflict is severe sanctions and cyber warfare.

Severe sanctions have resulted in shortages and inflation. Cyber warfare on both sides has resulted in money being lost because of bank accounts being hacked into and malware wiping out people’s financial data.


Normalcy bias causes you to downplay future health threats.

Here’s an example, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was common for some people to downplay the impacts of the virus. They assumed that COVID-19 wouldn’t affect their short-term or long-term health.

Some people who downplayed the health threat ended up catching COVID-19 and ended up either hospitalized or with long-term health problems.

As a result, their lives have changed forever and have long-term health problems. Some people develop diabetes, others ended up with organ damage and even cognitive problems such as early onset dementia.

Let’s Explore How To Overcome Normalcy Bias

Overcoming normalcy bias involves a delicate balancing act.

The opposite of normalcy bias is called worse-case scenario bias. If there’s even a small deviation from what’s status quo, worse-case scenario bias causes you to always obsess over impending doom.

As a result, you overreact to every situation and you’re always living in fear.

For some people, worse-case scenario bias could be a symptom of a mental disorder such as bipolar disorder or PTSD.

It’s important to be prepared for a potential disaster. At the same time, you don’t want your entire life to revolve around impending doom. Having a balanced approach is being prepared, not scared.

Overcoming Normalcy Bias

When overcoming normalcy bias, it helps to learn how to be prepared, not scared.

Start by becoming aware that you have a normalcy bias. If you find yourself dismissing a potentially devastating disaster, stop and think about what would happen if you downplay it.

Ask yourself how it will affect your life in the short-term and long-term. Will it affect your finances?, Will it affect a loved one? or Will it affect your life long-term?

Then have a plan put in place for a future disaster.

For example, if you’re working and making good money, have a plan for a future setback such as a job loss or a medical emergency. It’s really hard to make ends meet without debt, but it’s possible to minimize the amount of debt you accumulate. Start by putting the brakes on things you don’t need.

Also, don’t get too comfortable or complacent at work. Do the best you can to keep your job skills fresh in order to make yourself hard to replace.


It’s important to never assume something will always be status quo. Something will always happen, so it’s important to not be swept away by it.

Do You Have A Normalcy Bias?

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