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Good Housekeeping
Charlene J. Owen, Contributor
October 16, 2012

Women Are More Sensitive to Media Negativity than Men

Are you feeling more stressed than you should be? Negative news reports may have something to do with it. By Charlene J. Owen

Here's a reason why you shouldn't read the negative news reports first thing in the morning or right before going to bed, as according to research, they may influence women's reactions to stressful situations.

The study, hosted on and published in PLOS One, says that researchers from the University of Montreal have found a link between women's stress reactions and negative news articles. The study, conducted at the Centre for Studies on Human Stress in Louis H. Lafontaine Hospital in Montreal, gathered 60 men and women and divided them into four groups--two groups per gender. A group of men and a group of women were given "neutral" news articles to read: mostly about movie premieres and other similar events. The other groups were given "negative" articles to read: mostly about accidents or murders.

Saliva samples were used to determine stress levels in the participants. "When our brain perceives a threatening situation, our bodies begin to produce stress hormones that enter the brain and may modulate memories of stressful or negative events," explains Sonia Lupien, Director of the Centre for Studies on Human Stress and a professor at the university's Department of Psychiatry. After the articles were read, participants were given memory and intellect-related tasks to gauge how they will react to stressful situations. The following day, they were asked to talk about the articles they have read.

The results were surprising. "Although the news stories alone did not increase stress levels, they did make the women more reactive, affecting their physiological responses to later stressful situations," says lead author Marie-France Marin. This was indicated by increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their saliva. These women also remembered more details about the negative articles they have read as opposed to the other groups.  

Curiously, the men who read the negative articles didn’t have the same result.

As women may be more empathic to negative situations, it’s important to always have time to de-stress. This will help you face your work and the rest of the world with a clearer and more focused mind.    

(Photo by Ben Raynal via Flickr Creative Commons)

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Charlene J. Owen
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