When Good News Is Bad News: Medical Wellness as a Nonevent in Undergraduates

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Study 1 demonstrated that information about healthy functioning can amplify health concerns and erode diagnostic confidence. Undergraduate Ss received a hypothetical test showing some level of cells associated either with pathology or with its absence. The moderate wellness result produced low confidence in one's health estimate and was distressing to receive. Wellness information may represent an ambiguous nonevent when testing for disease. Study 2 tested this thesis by adding Ss who adopted a recovering role to those adopting an illness role. Judgmental uncertainty was greatest—and equivalent—among recovering Ss given the moderate illness result and among ailing Ss given a moderate wellness result, and both groups were most willing to consider taking a risky treatment for the disease.

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