Good News, Bad News

The good news is…the BAD news?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

We LOVE good news and tend to filter out bad news. This could be why some folks ignore warnings to leave disaster areas. Is there any hope for us cheesy optimists?

Tali Sharot from University College London wondered the same thing. She and her team asked two groups of volunteers to guess the chances of something bad happening to them. For example, burglary or identity theft.

The twist? One group was stressed out over a speech they’d have to give after the experiment!

Both groups often lowballed their risks. Afterwards, they were told the ACTUAL crime statistics and were allowed to correct their guess. The non-stressed group never faced reality! They stood by their optimistically low risk!

But the stressed-out group? They listened. Their new assessments were in line with real world data. There’s no space for optimism!

Researchers think this flexibility is good for us. Optimism can keep us happier when times are good. But stress keeps us cautious when there is danger on the horizon.

So stress out! It’s healthy! ..ish.