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Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2015 Nov;41(11):1551-9. doi: 10.1177/0146167215601407. Epub 2015 Sep 3.

Is Waiting the Hardest Part? Comparing the Emotional Experiences of Awaiting and Receiving Bad News.

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University of California, Riverside, USA
University of California, Riverside, USA.


Awaiting uncertain news is stressful, but is it more stressful than receiving bad news? We compared these emotional experiences in two studies. Participants in Study 1 reflected on a personal experience awaiting news that ultimately turned out badly, and participants in Study 2 were law graduates awaiting their results on the bar exam who ultimately failed the exam. In Study 1, participants were ambivalent as to whether awaiting or receiving bad news was more difficult, and emotion ratings in both studies confirmed this ambivalence. Anxiety was higher in anticipation of bad news (at least at the moment of truth) than in the face of it, whereas other negative emotions were more intense following the news than during the waiting period. Thus, whether waiting is "the hardest part" depends on whether one prefers to be racked with anxiety or afflicted with other negative emotions such as anger, disappointment, depression, and regret.


anxiety; bad news; emotion; uncertainty; waiting

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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