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Exposure to Negative Events Diminishes Their Effect

Update Date: Nov 26, 2013 01:15 PM EST
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Many things can put people in bad moods. However, new research reveals that repeated exposure to a negative event can diminish its effect on mood.

Previous research revealed that being in a bad mood can negatively affect cognition by slowing reaction time, speech, writing and counting. However, a new study reveals that frequent exposure to negative events softens their effect on mood and cognition.

"A bad mood is known to slow cognition," researcher Dr. Moshe Shay Ben-Haim said in a news release.

"We show that, counter-intuitively, you can avoid getting into a bad mood in the first place by dwelling on a negative event. If you look at the newspaper before you go to work and see a headline about a bombing or tragedy of some kind, it's better to read the article all the way through and repeatedly expose yourself to the negative information. You will be freer to go on with your day in a better mood and without any negative effects," Ben-Haim added.

Using the emotional Stroop task, researchers found that it took longer for people to identify the color of negative words like "terrorism" than of neutral words like "table". Researchers said the effect is particularly pronounced in people with emotional disorders like depression or anxiety.

However, the latest study revealed that participants were able to identify the ink color without delay after being shown the same negative word twice. Researchers explained that people were slower at identifying the ink color of negative words if they are shown the word only once.

The latest findings suggest that negative words lose their affective poser through repetition.

Researchers said the latest findings could have a significant impact on our knowledge of emotions, attention, and how we process cues in the environment.

The findings are published in the journal Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics.

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