Women Remember Bad News More than Men: Byproduct of Evolution?


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Women remember bad news more than men, according to new research. Image by spaceodissy.

“Of course I worry! I’m a mother!”

Comments such as this populate social media websites.

Now, a new study by Canadian researcher Marie-France Marin and colleagues demonstrates what may be behind some of women’s anxiety: Women remember bad news more than men do.

In fact, reacting more to bad news may have once provided an evolutionary advantage.

The Media: Newsprint and Worry Research

Dr. Marin’s team showed sixty men and women newspaper articles containing both negative and neutral events.

In an exclusive interview with Decoded Science, Dr. Marin, she explained the choice of print media over video: “We wanted to update the news constantly (so that participants were confronted to news that occurred within the last month). We also wanted to use real news and so, it was hard to control for the intensity of the images since they will not be kept constant throughout the study. Also, it would have been hard to know whether it was the content of the news per se or the images that created this effect. By controlling for the modality of presentation (by using only one modality), we can make sure that the news in itself can have an effect. Now, it remains to be determined whether combining modalities (video and sound) would result in similar findings.”

Dr. Marin also told Decoded Science, “We asked our participants how frequently they were in contact with the news and this did not differ between our groups.” Men and women were equally likely to independently have read newspapers prior to the research, so “habituation” or one gender simply being more used to reading bad news was not a factor.

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