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Tuesday, 28 February 2012 22:29

Stress Affects Decision Making Capacity

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Stress changes how people make decisions: study

Trying to make a big decision while you’re also preparing for a scary presentation? You might want to hold off on that. Feeling stressed changes how people weigh risk and reward. A new article published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, reviews how, under stress, people pay more attention to the upside of a possible outcome- reports medical express.

The findings are surprising suggest the study author. In most cases, stress is associated with negative experience, so obviously we may think that may be our focused would be on negative outcomes, however, the researchers have found that when people put under various stressful conditions; such as holding their hand in ice water for a few minutes or give a speech; they are more attentive to positive information and impairs, while discounting negative information.

It’s a bit surprising that stress makes people focus on the way things could go right, says Mara Mather of the University of Southern California, who co wrote the new review paper with Nichole R. Lighthall. “This is sort of not what people would think right off the bat,”
“Stress seems to help people learn from positive feedback and impairs their learning from negative feedback,” Mather says.

This means when people under stress are making a difficult decision, they may pay more attention to the upsides of the alternatives they’re considering and less to the downsides. So someone who’s deciding whether to take a new job and is feeling stressed by the decision might weigh the increase in salary more heavily than the worse commute.

Stress linked to addiction
The finding also helps to explain the role of stress in addiction and why people under stress have hard time in controlling their urges.
 “The compulsion to get that reward comes stronger and they’re less able to resist it,” Mather says. So a person who’s under stress might think only about the good feelings they’ll get from a drug, while the downsides shrink into the distance.

Men and women think differently
Stress also increases the differences in how men and women think about risk.  Men become more risky or are even more willing to take risks, while women under stress become more conservative about risk. Mather links this to other research that finds, at difficult times, men are inclined toward fight-or-flight responses, while women try to bond more and improve their relationships.

“We make all sorts of decisions under stress,” Mather says. “If your kid has an accident and ends up in the hospital, that’s a very stressful situation and decisions need to be made quickly.” And, of course, big decisions can be sources of stress all by themselves and just make the situation worse. “It seems likely that how much stress you’re experiencing will affect the way you’re making the decision.”

How to Deal with day to day STRESS..



Read 3933 times Last modified on Tuesday, 28 February 2012 22:57

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