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When People Are Worried They Are More Likely To Think The Worst

When people are worried, they are more likely to jump to the worst conclusion, according to new research.
According to a new study, when people are stressed, they form unfavorable conclusions based on lower evidence than when they are relaxed.
The findings imply that people who are stressed are more inclined to believe the worst case scenario is true.
Our findings imply that when people are stressed, they consider each piece of evidence that supports unfavorable conclusions more heavily than when they are comfortable. Lead author Professor Tali Sharot, of UCL Psychology to Language Sciences and the Max Planck UCL Institute for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research, said: “Many of the most important judgments you will make, from financial to medical and pro-life decisions, will be made under stress.”
“Most of the time, making these decisions entails gathering information and weighing the facts.”
“For example, before deciding on the best course of medical treatment, you may confer with a number of doctors.”
“We wanted to see if being anxious affects how you process and use information? “Our findings imply that when people are stressed, they consider each piece of evidence that supports unfavorable conclusions more heavily than when they are relaxed.
“Yet, stress has little effect on how they weigh data that supports favorable conclusions.”
“As a result, when people are stressed, they are more likely to infer the worst.” In the short study, 91 volunteers participated in a classification game in which they could gather as much evidence as they needed to decide whether they were in a desirable (associated with rewards) or an undesirable (associated with losses) setting.
Accuracy was rewarded to the participants.
Before the game, 40 of them were told they would have to give a public speech that would be judged by a panel of experts, which made them nervous and stressed.
Under stress, the participants need weaker evidence to form the conclusion that they were in an unfavorable environment, according to UCL researchers.
The study indicated that stress had no effect on the strength of evidence needed to reach the conclusion that they were in a favorable setting.
“We normally think of stressful events as a burden to our decision-making process,” said lead author Laura Globig, PhD student at UCL Psychology & Language Sciences and Max Planck UCL Institute for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research.
“Yet, the pattern of learning we’ve discovered may be adaptive, because negative thoughts may force people to be extra careful in dangerous situations.”

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