Do we prefer bad or good news first?

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

UCR grad
Angela Legg is a Ph.D. student from the University of California, Riverside.

We’ve all been faced with the following question before: do you want the good news or the bad news first? According to psychologists, the answer depends on whether you’re giving or receiving the news.

Angela Legg, a Ph.D. psychology student from the University of California, Riverside, ran a series of scientific experiments to put the question to the test. Apparently, 75% of people who are receiving news prefer to hear the bad kind first. “If people know they are going to get bad news, they would rather get it over with,” said Legg. That way, the good news will be there to soften any blows.

However, when people are delivering news, they prefer to tell the good news first, then the bad news. Why? According to Legg, individuals holding information get anxious about having to give the news, and they forget that people may want it the other way around.

“When news givers go into a conversation, they are anxious,” said Legg. “They don’t understand that having to wait for bad news makes the recipient more anxious.”

Apparently, this approach could be useful if you want someone to change their behavior, like bad eating habits. If the good news isn’t enough to cure the blow from the bad news, it could motivate someone to change their behavior for the better!

Featured image courtesy of Matt Biddulph on Flickr. Image of Angela Legg courtesy of University of California, Riverside.