With swine flu raging, have you noticed how it now feels more embarrassing to sneeze or cough in public, and if you do sneeze, how people around you start giving you mean looks? The University of Michigan study revealed that excessive anxiety over swine flu may unlock unconscious fears that have nothing to do with the pandemic disease.
For the experiment, researchers asked a staff member to loudly sneeze at passing-by students. Then, they asked the students to fill in a questionnaire. The questionnaire asked students to evaluate the risk of an average American to get a major disease, to suffer heart attack before the age 50 and to die from an accident.
The researchers found that those students who were sneezed at before interviewing were more likely to overvalue the risks. They were more afraid of dying from heart attack or an accident, compared to those who were not sneezed at.
Researchers believe the sneezing was a trigger for health fears, even in those cases when a disease had nothing to do with germs. Students were also asked to give their opinion on current healthcare. No wonder those sneezed at painted it black.
The study will be published on Psychological Science.
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Source of the image: flickr.com/photos/esparta.