Negative messages are ignored by people

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Bad news is mostly ignored by people

People usually ignore mostly bad news. People use positive news above all to evaluate their own future perspective and health. Most people ignore negative messages and messages. This was discovered by a psychosocial study by English researchers from the University College in London as part of a student research project.

Every day, people receive positive and negative messages that can influence their own being. In contrast to positive messages, negative messages are largely suppressed. However, the unrealistic view can have consequences for health and social coexistence. As a study by social scientists at the University of London University of London showed, the assessment of one's own personal profile leads to a demonstrable but unrealistic optimism, as the research team led by Tali Sharot wrote in the journal "Nature Neuroscience".

Most people are afraid of developing cancer, coronary artery disease or dementia, but in everyday life the fear is masked by optimism about survival. In the course of the study, subjects were asked about their personal probability assessment. In a total of 80 negative questions, the participants were asked, for example, how likely it is to suffer a car accident, to be robbed, to get Alzheimer's or to die of an incurable cancer. The test subjects each had to use a questionnaire to assess how high they assessed their own risk. The social researchers then told the study participants the actual probabilities, which were calculated on the basis of statistical evaluations and personality profiles.

Negative messages are viewed with optimism. In the second phase of the study, the same questionnaire was again presented to the test subjects. Again the participants had to answer the same questions. The scientists wanted to find out what influence the facts had on the assessment of their own risk. The activities of individual areas of the brain were measured during the passage. The evaluation showed that 79 percent of the study participants changed their minds if facts were refuted beforehand that their risk was lower in certain points than previously estimated. If the participants rated their risk profile more positively but were refuted, most of them remained optimistic. "Our behavioral results show a fixed asymmetry in the change of opinion," said Tali Sharot. "Participants learned more from the information that offered a way to adopt more optimistic attitudes."

Positioning and assessing your own future can therefore have health consequences, for example, because people smoke and, contrary to the facts, assess their risk of cancer as low. "But social aspects also play a major role," as the psychologists note. The unrealistic self-assessment leads to incorrect assessments of contraception, pension provision and inadequate behavior in road traffic. "It won't hit me myself."

Optimism about stress and fear
So is optimism, which is refuted by facts, not all good for health? In naturopathy, mental and physical well-being interact. People who were seriously ill and lost their optimism showed a high mortality rate in numerous studies. If optimism is strengthened, for example, with the help of salutogenesis, the body's own defense reactions and healing processes can be strengthened or even activated. The London researchers also do not contradict this when they finally write: "On the other hand, optimistic expectations can reduce stress and anxiety and thus promote health and well-being." Optimism can be understood as a kind of survival mechanism that prevents us from being socially isolated because of an overrated risk mindset in order to avoid potential dangers. (sb)

Also read:
Happiness extends life
Does optimism strengthen the immune system?

Image: Bernd Boscolo /

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