Women may respond more to negative news stories than men, at least according to a new small study.
In a study published in the journal PLoS One on Wednesday, researchers from the University of Montreal found that women produced more stress hormones in tests if they had read negative newspaper stories.
To reach their findings, scientists compiled newspaper clippings of negative stories, about natural disasters and murders, for example, as well as neutral stories covering news such as film premieres. They then asked 56 men and women to read 24 news excerpts, with half reading neutral news and the other half reading negative stories. Afterward, the subjects each participated in a stressful mock job interview followed by a mental math test -- all while researchers measured cortisol levels present in the subjects' saliva.
The women who had read the negative news reacted more strongly during the stressful situations than the men in both groups or the women who had read neutral news. In addition, after follow-up calls with the subjects the next day, the researchers found that women also ruminated over the bad news longer than the men and could recall more details than the men.
"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," says lead author Marie-France Marin.