Your female clients might be more stressed out than your male clients, if they tend to read news reports.

New research from the University of Montreal indicates negative news articles in the media increase women’s sensitivity to stressful situations, but do not have a similar effect on men.

Sixty people participated in this study. A group of men and a group of women read neutral news stories, about subjects such as the opening of a new park or the premiere of a new film, while the another two gender-segregated groups read negative stories about events such as murders and accidents.

Participants’ cortisol was tested before and after they read the news articles, and they took standardized tasks involving memory and intellect that enabled researchers to evaluate and compare how people react to stressful situations.

“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,” Marin explained. The researchers discovered this when they saw that the level of cortisol in the women who have read the negative news was higher after the stress part of the experiment compared to the women who have read the neutral news.

Moreover, the women were able to remember more of the details of the negative stories. It is interesting to note that we did not observe this phenomenon amongst the male participants, said Marin.

“It’s difficult to avoid the news, considering the multitude of news sources out there, said lead author Marie-France Marin. “And what if all that news was bad for us? It certainly looks like that could be the case.”

The findings were published in PLOS One.

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