3 Ways To Beat Your Normalcy Bias


Change is something that most people are uncomfortable with. We humans live with our familiar routines and habits, and we have some difficulty with situations that are out of the ordinary and out of our ‘comfort zone’. Because we want things to be normal. This is normalcy bias.

To make matters worse, when confronted with an emergency or disaster, something interesting happens. A small percentage will effectively deal with it, a percentage will ‘lose their minds’, however a surprising percentage of people will act as though they are not affected, that the incident is somehow over or past them, or that nothing even happened… They are not accepting in their minds that ‘it’ happened or that they are, or may be, involved in any way or that action may be prudent or required on their part…

For example,

I recently read that “people seeking shelter during tornadoes and hurricanes are often called back, or delayed, by people doing normal activities, who refuse to believe the emergency is happening” (gizmodo.com). This is normalcy bias. Apparently about 70% of people in a disaster do it. “Although movies show crowds screaming and panicking, most people move dazedly through normal activities in a crisis.”

I have also read that people will look for about four opinions on what’s going on and what they should do before taking any action — even in an obvious crisis.

For example, during an emergency people will likely call out to others: “What’s going on?” If and when someone tells them to evacuate, or to take shelter, they fail to comply and move on, asking other people the same question.

Why? because they want someone to tell them that everything is okay, and will keep on asking or delaying action until they get it what they want to hear… or about four different people telling them to evacuate (or whatever the appropriate action).

So what can you do to beat your own normalcy bias?

1. Tell yourself (force yourself) to recognize and acknowledge that you have normalcy bias. We all do to varying extents. Recognizing and accepting that you are affected is the first step.

2. Teach yourself Situational Awareness. When you know what’s going on around you (near or far) it will enable you to more quickly recognize that a situation is about to occur or is occurring right now. It gets you out of your normalcy bubble.

3. Trust your gut, your instincts, your senses, and the facts. Do not deny or hide from them.

Sounds easy enough?


  1. Good points. I know I can have a complacency problem. Sometimes you get tired, or life gets in the way, or you start thinking that nothing has happened in the twenty years on your road of survivalism. I have had to make a conscious effort not to stare at my phone while I’m at the store. It’s amazing the things you notice when you decide to make an effort to pay attention to your surroundings.
    I’ve been lucky in that during my adult life I have had a few life or death situations and I didn’t freeze up. I guess it would be luck, since at least twice my brain was just going “dur dur dur” and training or subconscious kicked in and got sh__ done.

    1. Agree with you on all points, especially on the role of sub-conscious reaction. We need to NOT get on the way of what our sub-conscience is telling us. Training and life experience reinforce and support our sub-conscious reactions. Like the old saying” Good judgement comes from experience, and experience comes from Poor judgement”

  2. I started prepping after the ice storm in 2009. Everyone was buying kerosene heaters and generators like crazy. Then the next summer they were selling them in yard sales. They said it would never happen AGAIN. I only have one generator but I have four kerosene heaters now. It took me a couple of days to get the house set up so we could function well and be comfortable when the ice storm hit in 2009. I could be set up and functioning in less than an hour now. Some of the people I know left their homes and let their family take care of them. They think some one will always be there to take care of them. They make no effort to prep and say “if anything happens I will come to your house”. This is a good friend of mine but I would have to turn him away if it was any kind of serious situation. How can you get thru to people that refuse to realize what can happen, even when they have lived thru it before? PEOPLE ARE MORONS!!!!

    1. Quote, “They think some one will always be there to take care of them. They make no effort to prep and say ‘if anything happens I will come to your house’.”

      Man oh man… the apparent MAJORITY would have that attitude. Over my lifetime I have known a number of these people – who will default to looking for a handout or external ‘help’ when their times get tough. This is their #1 instinct and they will RELY on it. So YOU become their safety net. Most of these same people will come back for more, and again, and again – and will do little to help themselves in a meaningful way.

      Quote, “How can you get thru to people that refuse to realize what can happen, even when they have lived thru it before?”

      My experience is the following… you cannot. Period.

      1. I won’t to say something and I am at a loss to explain it, and maybe it can’t be explained. But a destitute family that lives a few miles from us has been receiving preps from us for over a year now. This evening at dusk they drove up to our house and without fanfare returned all the preps. Her husband is going to prison for arson and drug dealing. The two kids are out of food and clothing. The mom is driving back and forth to work in a borrowed car, they are flat broke…but gave no explanation as to why they returned the food…except to say that they would probably never use it. I eat this stuff everyday of my life and it’s good. The longer I live the more confused I get. Someone, utilizing less that 100 words, short choppy sentences, and no dangling participial phrases, please explain to me why the hell idiots like me attempt to help anyone. Or did I just answer the question by self reflecting the word idiot? I love nonpreppers…they drive me to drink…and each day the trip gets shorter. Blessed be nonpreppers.

        1. Taxdn2poverty

          I am hoping you will tell us what preps you gave them/they returned as something they would not use.

          I am guessing you gave them basics,

          I am guessing they all are used to eating packaged / processed food?

          That packaged process food does have a lot of chemicals in it, and it has always been my thought, that not only is it expensive and unhealthy, it is addictive. I am seriously convinced that folks who eat it regular, get addicted to the chemicals in it. (Now, I have not decided if the addictive chemicals are by design of manufacture, or…To my mind, it may not be on purpose, but the result is similar)

          Please do not let this cause you to give up on helping folks, just be more cautious. I too have helped folks (although much less), and often seen similar sort of results. (although I found out by accident some stuff was garbaged)…I do not “help” often, but I am very selective. It means I am giving up to help, so I would hate to see more in the garbage.

        2. Taxdn2poverty

          I think it took more courage and decency than most can imagine, for that woman to bring it back and return it to you.

          It seems to show that she understands your kindness and generosity, and truly realises this gift meant something to you, maybe even a sacrifice.

          It seems to show, that she wants to not waste what you have worked hard to accrue and share, even if she does not comprehend how to use it.

          I imagine that someone in her circumstances, with hubby in that situation, and kids hungry, it took a lot of courage and decency for her to bring it back, instead of pitching it in the garbage. (You likely would not have known any difference if it had gone in the garbage…)

    2. I kept getting this response from a very good friend. I think I got thru when I asked her .. “who am I supposed to let go hungry so you can eat?”… when she didn’t say more, I continued… We have prepped from poor, it has taken several years for us to be able not to be hand to mouth, but others take vacationns, travel over the country visiting relatives, and eat 3 out of 4 meals away from home at a restraunt or fast food place. If you want to eat, you need to be putting what you presently eat back.You might not want beans every day.

  3. I have been out cutting up logs and got too hot so came in to enjoy some cool air-conditioning while I still can. All seems well but I am increasingly concerned that time is running out. I like this idea because I do it more and more now. You’ve got to keep your self ready, I tell my self. Is today the day? I ask myself, what else can I do to get ready?.

    Then some times I give in to “what’s the use thinking”. I can’t possibly fend them all off from here, I should just give up on my preps and enjoy what ever time we have left. Maybe nothing will ever happen anyhow. MAYBE! That’s how my wife has started thinking lately. That’s another story.

    I can’t do it. I can’t bury my head in the sand deep enough. The signs are all around us. If its not one thing its another. EMP, Obama, What can I say, the economy, mass migration from down south. All we need is for the EBT cards to stop working and we will have zombies at the door in three days. “Sit-Rap” on steroids. I don’t think I have “Normalcy Bias” and as for others who refuse to even make any effort to prepare, I don’t let them get close to me. Most people will die when The SHTF, I am focused on my next move, that’s all I can do.

    1. It won’t take three days. Grid your loins my friend. Vince Lombardi once said, “Anything a person fails to do is a lack of will.” He also said, Winning is not the most important thing, it is the only thing.” Prep to win, friend, it is the only thing. God bless and thanks.

  4. Normalcy bias will kill all my coworkers and new boss. I have hinted to them to watch the economy and hoped they prepared for long term disaster without giving them my OSPEC. They don’t believe a disaster is coming at anytime. The new boss said he had a lot of debt and his wife was fired from her teaching job a while ago, and today told me I couldn’t do one of my important jobs because I will get hurt. He started arguing at me with degrading remarks, making me out to be a liar because I have been always safe up to 7 years doing it and didn’t believe me. He has no idea how it’s done. He refused to listen to me on how I stay safe when I explained, he then yelled, “I am Done with YOU!”, quickly turned his back on me, walked out and shut the door in my face as I was talking to him. ….I thought I would be fired tomorrow . He seemed to have so much hate in him.


    Well, that was this morning and this afternoon he was careless in his surroundings. He got in an accident and was rushed to the hospital. I heard he’ll be there a while. His shtf today with no preparations, no work, wife without work, and a debt up to their ears. It also speaks volumes about his “safety awareness”.

  5. I work two very high stress and safety oriented jobs. I am a principal of a school of about 400 students and 50 staff. I constantly deal with “emergencies”. I do this so often, that it is now second nature. When others freeze, I am running on autopilot. I also work as a part time deputy for my county. This also puts me in life and death situations, where again, training and awareness are key. I recently found myself unprepared and froze for just a few seconds this past school year…. a younger student suddenly became ill and passed away over the weekend. I was completely taken aback when this was first reported to me. After a few seconds, I shook myself out of denial and went to consult our school emergency plan, which I wrote a few years ago. I knew what it said. I WROTE IT. At the moment, I couldn’t remember a word it said, but reading it was something I could do. It was the only action I could think of in the first few minutes. The news was heard through the grapevine, and I could feel the normalcy bias just wanting to deny what I knew was going to be confirmed as fact. I had to get my bearings and come up with a plan to confirm the news, and then prepare for the massive grief that was about to hit my school/community. This was not an immediate life and death emergency, but if handled improperly, students/staff could turn to drugs or suicide (I saw others do this when I was a student in h.s.). My point is, even though I made a plan for this, I had not actually thought enough about it happening to my school. Even though I live in the yellow, I was caught in the white on this one. You never know how the bias will hit you, and sometimes you might not have a few seconds to collect your thoughts.

  6. I’m stuck there now. Stock market is up, unemployment in Florida is very low, houses are selling fast, my businesses are growing and the weather is great!! What could possibly go wrong! Haven’t done much towards preps in a month. Ho hum!! Yawn!

    So where do I go from here!!??

    1. Mikey: Ignore the obvious and keep your nose in the wind. Things could change very quickly. Florida has has its share of disasters. And, if the economy starts going south, all of the fools who put everything in toys and real estate are going to be looking for food and other essentials. A great book to read is A FAILURE OF CIVILITY. It is sobering. Take care.

    2. @ Mikey

      FEMA Camp???? If/When TSHTF? Just a thought………

      Remember the Super-Dome after Katrina? And 5 days for water?


      PS; do appreciate your “sarcasm” :-)

  7. We are a product of our parents teaching, and our life experience, normalcy bias we observe on a daily basis. Common sense however is a learned bias we should adopt and fall back on………for myself a quote says it all, we can be one of the following, most of us here on this sight get it, others never will here is the quote “There are three types of people in the world, those who make things happen, those that watch things happen and those who wonder what the hell just happened.”

  8. In ways, “Normalcy bias” seems to be a coping mechanism for people who really can’t assimilate facts and truth very well. The “if I can’t see it, it can’t hurt me” denial is nothing more than a cheap cop-out.

    “Normalcy bias” reminds me of the first of the 5 stages of grief that Kubler-Ross identified. We would be wise to learn those 5 stages because the majority of sheep/walkers are going to experience the first 2 when the SHTF.

    The 5 stages of grief are:
    Denial (denying the reality of the situation)
    Anger (generally redirecting anger elsewhere)
    Bargaining (somewhat acknowledging helplessness by seeking resolve to postpone the inevitable situation)

    Change is something that some people refuse to acknowledge, but all of us here see radical changes in the past decade (and many of us see the changes that have occurred in the past 20/50/100 years, too). The Industrial Revolution brought about enormous changes for America. Right now, we have huge a huge Technology Revolution going on at the same time that we are living with an out of control government going from an Oligarcy to a Dictatorship WROL. We are also experiencing unbelievable corruption and a migration of unskilled sick/dangerous/cartel-based illegals that cannot prove their identities through documentation from many foreign countries. And the central bank and NWO are making sure that they can collapse ‘the system’ to usher in the globalist government. The NAU/TPP was written about in 2000 with a completed target date of 2030. So far, the full Agenda is falling-in-line according to their plans. Anyone who doubts these radical changes should simply be presented with a brief on the UN’s Agenda 21 document, then reminded of the failings of Obamacare right after the Bailouts, TARP, the Patriot Act, and all of the other big-government tyrannical moves. Of course, there are few people who actually have the interest to learn these things, much less admit to them because they fell for “hope and change” or “the American dream.”

    All empires will eventually collapse. Reading this post, I am reminded of Dmitri Orlov’s term: discontinuous future. That’s a ‘soft’ descriptor for TEOTWAWKI

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