Want to deliver bad news better? Stress out your patients first

Study shows people process negative information better when pressured 

Next time you need to deliver some bad news to a patient, perhaps add a touch of stress.

Yes really, say the authors of a new study that shows people process negative information better when pressured.  

This is because people generally tend to be optimistic. But feeling under threat removes their tendency to readily accept good news over bad, according to the research conducted both in people in a laboratory setting and among firefighters in the field.

“Our results provide evidence that the well-documented asymmetry in belief formation evaporates under perceived threat,” the Princeton University and London University researchers write in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Their previous research had shown that participants tend to put more weight on good news than bad news.

In the experiment, 36 UK participants were divided into two groups.