Alp Kaan Aksu


An incomplete list of pessimistic asymmetries

The world has a lot of pessimistic asymmetries to offer and we have the tendency to perceive negative events more strongly or to perceive neutral events negatively. I think there are two categories of pessimistic asymmetries: objective and subjective. Objective asymmetries are independent of our perception, they are facts about our world and lives. Subjective asymmetries are connected to how we think about and evaluate real or imagined events and objects.

Objective Asymmetries

Asymmetry of creation ↔ destruction

Creating something is much harder than destroying it. Assembling all the pieces in the right places takes time, effort and knowledge. Destruction is a much easier process in most cases.

Asymmetry of birth ↔ death

Similar to the asymmetry of creation and destruction. Let’s take childbirth as an example: a typical, healthy pregnancy lasts nine months, the birthing process is painful for the mother and can potentially lead to complications or result in maternal death. On the other hand, death can occur in a matter of seconds. You can’t give birth without planning it or knowing about it nine months in advance, yet you might die unexpectedly, without realizing what is about to happen in a few moments.

Subjective Asymmetries

Asymmetry of perceived value of loss ↔ gain

We are more sensitive to losses than gains. Impact of the loss of some amount is usually stronger than the gain of the same amount. The loss of a certain amount can not be compensated with a gain of the same amount. This asymmetry is visualized as a value function in This asymmetry leads to loss aversion or risk aversion.