Women and the bad news blues
I’d like to ask my female readers a question: do you sit mesmerised and horrified as news of the latest tragedy, murder or disaster flickers across your TV screen? Have you ever lain awake at night thinking about the suffering victims? And while all this has been happening, have you found your husband or boyfriend to be frustratingly cool and uninvolved about the whole thing?
A new study from Canada may throw some light on this particular quirk of the male psyche.
Sixty people were divided into four male-female groups and asked to read different types of news stories, ranging from neutral ones, such as the opening of a new film, to ones with an emotional kick, such as accidents and disasters. Then the participants were given a series of memory and intellect-focused tests designed to evaluate how they responded to stressful situations. Levels of the stress hormone cortisol were examined at key stages.
Lastly the participants returned the following day to talk about what they had read in their stores.
Researchers found that the women who had read negative news stories showed higher levels of stress following the testing and also recalled the news stories they had read in greater detail.
Lead author of the study, Marie-France Marin, remarked rather drily:
“It is interesting to note that we did not observe this phenomenon amongst the male participants.”
“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.”
This curious difference may be nature talking. The researchers speculate that women may have evolved a different response to stress and a greater sense of empathy than men because they have historically been more focused on the survival of children.
I think we can see an echo of this discovery in the way men and women talk. No, I’m not talking about the hoary old cliché that women talk more than men, which seems to have little basis in fact. I am talking about the way they talk. In so far as one can generalise about entire genders, when women talk to each other on a personal basis you will usually hear a degree of emotional involvement – expressions of empathy and sympathy for each other’s woes and discussions of the fine details in their lives. Men, by contrast, tend to be a little more detached, and when they talk to each other it is as often as not about things rather than people: football, films, books, careers, and so on. Neither way of talking is better or worse than the other: they’re just different.
The media adage ‘it it bleeds it leads’ sums up something we have all felt while watching the news: why is so much of it bad? Many journalists will vehemently deny that the media is fixated on doom and disaster but the fact remains that the media is a commercial operation, and attention-grabbing sensationalism is an easy way to pull in those all-important advertisers, readers and viewers.
Keeping up with current affairs is a worthy ambition, but none of us should ever hesitate to switch over – or switch off – if and when it all gets a little too much.
So how do men deal with bad news? By turning to the bottle apparently! A 2008 study found that men are more likely than women to crave alcohol after getting bad news. You can draw conclusions from that!
Photo by Adam Mulligan under a Creative Commons licence
Share this post
Get free family law updates
Marilyn Stowe’s new book: expert advice on all aspects of divorce, from just 99p!
Divorce & Splitting Up by Marilyn Stowe is the essential how-to book for anyone who is getting divorced or splitting up from a partner. Read more >>
"A must buy that really opens your eyes to what is involved if you are considering or going through a divorce." - Amanda Brown
"This will answer your questions in a way that non-lawyers can understand." - Miss P.
"Don't get divorced without it. I read this book despite being divorced for more than 10 years. I wish I'd had this book to hand at the time. Great examples, simple to read and understand." - Jamie
"This really has helped me to see that there is light at the end of the tunnel and I will come out of it a stronger person." - J
Marilyn Stowe on SKY News & ITV This Morning
Marilyn’s Thought For The Day
The concept of two people living together for 25 years without a serious dispute suggests a lack of spirit only to be admired in sheep.
- Chris on Adultery and Divorce: The Top Ten Myths
- michelle jatta on Wigan mum launches child abduction passport petition
- marcia mckoy on Divorcee sues husband over compensation for 24 years in prison
- Observer on Financial Dispute Resolution – look out for these stumbling blocks
- Paul on Single parent families: a million fatherless children in the UK new report claims
Subscribe & Follow
Marilyn Stowe is the senior partner in Stowe Family Law, which has offices in Yorkshire, Cheshire and London. With more than 30 years’ experience handling divorce cases and family law proceedings she is regarded as one of the most formidable and sought after divorce lawyers in the UK. In 2012, Marilyn became one of the first solicitors to qualify as a family law arbitrator.
All persons mentioned in the scenarios are fictitious: details have been deliberately changed in order to protect identities and other confidential circumstances of my clients. All advice and information on this blog including posts written by guest authors, is given only as a general guide to the operation of the law on the date of publication. Readers must place no reliance whatsoever on the content of this blog and must always obtain their own legal advice. Marilyn Stowe, Stowe Family Law LLP and guest authors accept no liability whatsoever arising as a result of reliance upon its content.
Contact Stowe Family Law
These downloads accompany Marilyn Stowe's latest book: Divorce & Splitting Up: Advice From a Top Divorce Lawyer. After opening, right click to save to your computer.
For more free downloads, visit the Downloads section.