The Loh Down On Science

Negativity Toss

Having negative thoughts?  Just toss 'em. 

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Richard Petty from Ohio State University says that you can control the negativity by literally throwing it away.

In a series of experiments, he and colleagues asked volunteers to write down their thoughts, negative or positive, about their bodies or about a particular diet.

Afterward, one group was told to keep what they’d written out on their desks, while another was told to pocket the notes. A third group was asked to physically tear up the notes and throw them away. Later, the volunteers were asked to reevaluate their feelings.

And? Those who'd kept their thoughts sitting out and those who had pocketed their notes had more intense feelings than they began with. But those who threw away their notes? They felt the same as they did before. Looks like actions that symbolically protect thoughts have a real effect on people's feelings.

Petty admits this may sound silly, but those are his feelings. And he’s not throwing them away.

 

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC Pasadena, California. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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