What does stressed spell backwards?

Stressed spelled backwards spells desserts, and we usually think of them as equally bad for you. However, new research may indicate otherwise. An article in the The New York Times Magazine examined recent research on stress, and found that if students framed it in a positive way, it may actually benefit their performance:

"Before taking a practice test, the students read a short note explaining that the study’s purpose was to examine the effects of stress on cognition. Half of the students, however, were also given a statement declaring that recent research suggests 'people who feel anxious during a test might actually do better.' Therefore, if the students felt anxious during the practice test, it said, 'you shouldn’t feel concerned. . . simply remind yourself that your arousal could be helping you do well.' Just reading this statement significantly improved students’ performance. They scored 50 points higher in the quantitative section (out of a possible 800) than the control group on the practice test."

Jeremy Jamieson, assistant professor of social psychology at the University of Rochester, would like to see stress re-defined: “When people say, ‘I’m stressed out,’ it means, ‘I’m not doing well.’ It doesn’t mean, ‘I’m excited — I have increased oxygenated blood going to my brain. ” For juniors studying to take their SAT and ACT, this could be revolutionary, though it doesn't replace the value gained by planning ahead and studying.



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