Repeated Exposure to Bad News Increases Resistance towards Sadness, Study


Frequent exposure to negative information (news of catastrophes and crime) can make a person immune to sadness, according to Tel Aviv University study.

"A bad mood is known to slow cognition," Dr Moshe Shay Ben-Haim, who led the study, said in a statement. "We show that, counter intuitively, you can avoid getting into a bad mood in the first place by dwelling on a negative event."

"If you look at the newspaper before you go to work and see a headline about a bombing or tragedy of some kind, it's better to read the article all the way through and repeatedly expose yourself to the negative information. You will be freer to go on with your day in a better mood and without any negative effects."

For the study, respondents were asked to undergo a psychological test called the 'Emotional Stroop Task'. In the task, they were asked to name the color of the words (both neutral and negative) in which they were printed.

Usually, people take a long time to identify colors of negative words like 'terrorism' than neutral words like 'table' because the brain takes longer time to process the color of negative words considering them distracting or threatening. This trend is more prominent in people suffering from emotional disorders, like depression or anxiety.

The experts found that when participants were shown the negative word twice, they were able to quickly identify the color. On the other hand, when the negative word was shown only once, they named the colors of neutral words slowly because the mind was still reeling from the effect of the negative word.

The researchers concluded that through repetition, the negative words lost their power.

The task was then followed by a questionnaire. The scientists observed that participants, who had seen the negative words once, were slow in completing the questionnaire.

The study has been published in journal Attention, Perception and Psychophysics.

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