A small scale study has found that women’s bodies get physiologically stressed when they read negative news stories like those reporting murder, rape and natural disasters. The study found that men do not get psychologically or physiologically impacted by negative news, additionally, the study found that they also forget the distressing details reported.
Sixty individuals were recruited to either read 24 real life negative news stories that included reports of accidents, murder and natural disasters or 24 real life neutral news reports such as the opening of a new sports centre.
After being shown the news stories, the participants completed stress tests and the levels of cortisol the stress hormone was recorded. The following day the participants were asked to go back to the lab and complete a free recall test to establish what they remembered from the news articles they read.
The results showed a significant gender difference. Men did not show any changes in their cortisol levels between the neutral and the negative news articles. Additionally the level of recall for the news articles was the same whether they had read a negative or neutral article.
On the contrary, women who read the negative news article showed alleviated levels of the stress hormone cortisol indicating that the distressing nature of the news article triggered an emotional response and the activation of the sympathetic nervous system. In addition, the women reported that they became more stressed in the hours after reading the negative news article while those women that read neutral news showed no such effect.
The study highlights the importance of adequate daily stress management techniques in order that every day occurrences such as the reading of daily news doesn’t lead to long term stress-related health problems.