Dysphoric bias – understand your mind

Nataliia Kostenko, MS in Psychology January 19, 2023

Melancholy by Edvard Munch

Dysphoric bias is the tendency to perceive, interpret, and judge ambiguous cues in a negative/pessimistic manner [1]. That negative emotions changed people’s way of thinking about the future[2]. It’s one of the most common biases in human psychology and can cause problems like anxiety, worry, and depression. However, with the right understanding of what dysphoric bias is and how you can avoid it, you can start to manage your emotions better and improve your overall mental health [3]. That is why we created Anima – to help you identify whether you have signs of dysphoric bias so you can take immediate action.

Everyone sees the world differently.

It’s important to remember that everyone sees the world differently. We each have our own unique experiences and interpretations of the world, along with different mental health needs. Different people have different mental health problems and issues that they struggle with.

It’s also important to understand that there are many reasons why someone might experience dysphoria. Some people will experience dysphoria because of their gender identity or sexual orientation, whereas others may feel dysphoric because of their body size or race/ethnicity, past trauma (including childhood abuse), or even what medications they were prescribed by a doctor (which can cause side effects like weight gain).

Some people experience dysphoria because they don’t like the way they look, and this is often referred to as body dysmorphia. Other people may experience dysphoria because of how others treat them, such as if someone makes fun of their appearance or doesn’t accept them for who they are. Still, other people will feel dysphoric simply because of what someone else has said about them or done to them—this can include comments made by family members, friends, teachers, classmates, coaches, doctors, and so on.

Whether or not someone experiences dysphoria, it’s important to note that they’re not alone. In fact, many people experience dysphoria and don’t even realize it because they don’t know what it is—or how to describe their feelings. When someone has never heard of something before and doesn’t know what words are used to describe this topic, they may feel confused by their own feelings and have no idea how to explain them.

Our mental health influences our dysphoric bias.

When you have a mental health problem, it can be difficult to see the world clearly. Your dysphoric bias is caused by your brain’s natural tendency to focus on negative information and emotions [4]. But there are steps you can take to help counteract this pattern and improve your mental health.

For example, if you have depression or anxiety, research shows that mindfulness exercises can help with dysphoria reduction. These types of activities involve focusing on something in the present moment without judging it or thinking about anything else—for example: listening to music without thinking about what song will come next; taking a walk without thinking about whether it’s too hot outside or whether any cars are coming; eating lunch without thinking about how much money is left in your bank account; dancing alone at home even though no one is around (just kidding!).

But our dysphoric bias also influences our mental health.

It’s not a physical problem but a learned behaviour – one which we can change.

We all have a starting point – the way we initially perceive things around us. When we see faces or objects for the first time, our brain makes assumptions about what it is seeing: Is it male or female? Is it happy or sad? In some cases, these assumptions are based on previous experiences or biases, and so when you see something new, your brain makes guesses without you even realising it (this is called perception).

How distorted is your view of the world? Take the test and find out!

Anima is here to help you identify how you perceive the world.

The purpose of this test is to provide you with a measure of how dysphoric your mind is. The higher your score, the more distorted your view of the world is likely to be – and the more work that needs doing!

The test measures three things: how you look at positive stimuli, how you look at negative stimuli, and how fast you switch your gaze. 

How can you avoid dysphoric bias?

  • Focus on the positive. Try to find the silver lining in every situation, even if it’s small.
  • Practice gratitude. Remind yourself of all of your blessings, whether they are big or small.
  • Be mindful of your thoughts. When you start feeling negative about something, try to flip that around and think about how this experience could be beneficial for you in the long run; instead of focusing on what went wrong, focus on what went right and how you can use that experience to grow as a person moving forward.
  • Be aware of your triggers. If there are certain things that trigger your dysphoric bias (such as negative news stories), avoid them, so they don’t make it harder for you to control your emotions during times when things aren’t going well in life (like when trying to cope with loss).

Understanding your mind will help you feel happier and more fulfilled and improve your mental health.

Understanding your mind is the first step to teaching yourself to be happy [5]. It will help you understand yourself better and make better decisions, which will lead to improved mental health. You’ll be able to understand other people better, which can help with relationships too.

It’s important for everyone’s happiness and mental health!

We’ve covered a lot of ground here. But now that you’re familiar with the concept, it’s time to take action! The first step is to understand your own dysphoric bias and how it differs from other people’s perspectives on the world. How can we do this? By taking our test and finding out how distorted or accurate our perceptions are compared to others’. Second, by learning more about what causes these biases and how they affect our mental health. Thirdly (and most importantly), by learning ways we can work through them by changing some of our habits or practicing mindfulness meditation so we can become more aware of ourselves when making decisions in daily life.

Please remember, Anima helps you to detect symptoms of dysphoric bias, then guides you towards taking actions to improve your mental health. The app is based on the philosophy of empirical, data-driven approach to psychology which is growing in popularity and is used around the world to help people get happier.


  1. Lin, X. X., Sun, Y. B., Wang, Y. Z., Fan, L., Wang, X., Wang, N., … & Wang, J. Y. (2019). Ambiguity processing bias induced by depressed mood is associated with diminished pleasantness. Scientific reports, 9(1), 1-12.
    Ambiguity Processing Bias Induced by Depressed Mood Is Associated with Diminished Pleasantness | Scientific Reports (nature.com)
  1. Ji, J. L., Holmes, E. A., MacLeod, C., & Murphy, F. C. (2019). Spontaneous cognition in dysphoria: reduced positive bias in imagining the future. Psychological research, 83(4), 817-831.
  1. Bovy, L., Ikani, N., van de Kraats, L. N., Dresler, M., Tendolkar, I., & Vrijsen, J. N. (2022). The effects of daily autobiographical memory training on memory bias, mood and stress resilience in dysphoric individuals. Scientific reports, 12(1), 1-11.
  1. Sears, C. R., Thomas, C. L., LeHuquet, J. M., & Johnson, J. C. (2010). Attentional biases in dysphoria: An eye-tracking study of the allocation and disengagement of attention. Cognition and Emotion, 24(8), 1349-1368.
  1. Yoshimura, S., & Hashimoto, Y. (2020). The effect of induced optimism on the optimistic update bias. BMC psychology, 8(1), 1-7.