SEAN TAYLOR AND DEATH POSITIVITY BIAS
I did some reading recently on death positivity bias. In a nutshell, research confirms the tendency among the living, particulary strong in America, to ascribe higher favorability ratings to the recently deceased. In other words, people tend to be remembered more fondly in death than during their lives. The bias is strongest in situations where the deceased is perceived to have become a better person late in life. It was interesting to see this play out in the Sean Taylor story. Taylor was generally perceived as a thug, an attitude problem, and undisciplined in college and in his early NFL career. The early stories, when all that was known was that he had been shot in his home, tended to mention his negative reputation. The following day, the stories reporting his death played up what a fine young man he was and how, after having a baby with his girlfriend, he was really putting his life together and you could see he was a changed man. By dying, he cleaned up his act literally overnight.