New Delhi: Stress makes us more likely to blurt things out, research finds, even things we are usually careful to conceal. Arousal — the degree to which someone is awake and alert — causes people to say things automatically rather than think things through before speaking, according to Brent Coker from the University of Melbourne Faculty of Business and Economics.
“Ironically, the times when we’re most awake and alert are also the times when we have to be very careful about what we say— like job interviews, media engagements, important work meetings, or even romantic encounters,” Coker says. The research paper outlines three of eight experiments that Coker and co-author professor Ann L. McGill from the University of Chicago conducted. The first study asked participants to write a dating profile and found that “aroused” people disclosed more embarrassing, emotional, intimate, and incriminating information about themselves than those who were relatively relaxed. A follow-up study on the same data found that the aroused participants’ profiles were less attractive for dating than those of the more relaxed participants, suggesting that disclosing too much information also negatively affects people’s attractiveness.
The second study looked at online trolling behaviour and how likely people are to reveal instances when they said mean or malicious things to others online. The study found that people are more likely to disclose information one would not normally disclose when they are aroused. The third study found that people are more likely to disclose highly personal information after physical exercise.