Stress leads to worse decisions

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  • Under stress, people weigh every piece of evidence supporting undesirable conclusions more than they do when they are relaxed.
  • In contrast, stress does not alter the strength of the evidence needed to reach the conclusion that one is in a desirable environment.

When stress arrives, it spreads throughout the body. In a new study, US researchers show that it goes so far as to permeate our decision-making and lead us to make wrong choices. The search results were published on July 28 in Journal of Neuroscience.

Emphasizing that, we are more likely to conclude that worse is better

The results of this study highlight that it is best to avoid stressful situations when making important life decisions. “Our research indicates that people under stress weigh every piece of evidence supporting undesirable conclusions more than they do when they are relaxed.says Tali Sharot, a neuroscientist and lead author of the study. In contrast, the way they assess evidence supporting desired conclusions is unaffected by stress. As a result, people are more likely to conclude that worse is better when they are stressed.. ”

For the study, 91 volunteers played a rating game. During this, they can gather as much evidence as possible that they want to determine whether they are in a desirable, reward-related, or undesirable, environment related to losses. To create a stressful situation, before playing the game, 40 volunteers were told that they had to give a surprise speech in front of an audience that would be judged by a panel of experts.

Under pressure, little need for proof

The researchers found that under stress, volunteers needed weaker evidence to reach the conclusion that they were in an undesirable environment. In contrast, pressure did not change the strength of the evidence needed to reach the conclusion that they were in the desired environment.

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We usually think of stressful situations as an obstacle to our decision-making process, says Tally Sharot. But the learning model we discovered may be unexpectedly adaptive because negative beliefs can make people more anxious in threatening environments.. “

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