What is the difference between normalcy bias and optimism bias?

Normalcy bias and optimism bias are closely related as they both influence our risk perception. However, they are two separate phenomena.

  • Normalcy bias denotes our tendency to minimize or ignore threat warnings and to believe that nothing can seriously disrupt our everyday life.
  • Optimism bias, on the other hand, denotes the tendency to overestimate the likelihood of positive events and underestimate the likelihood of negative events.

Although normalcy bias and optimism bias are distinct types of bias, they may reinforce each other. For instance, an individual who receives a hurricane alert may underestimate how serious it is (normalcy bias) and may also think that even if the hurricane affects their area, nothing bad will happen to them personally (optimism bias).