Good News or Bad News: Which Do You Want First?
A new study makes the argument for bad before good—with some exceptions.
Do you want the good news or the bad news first?
It's the setup line to a well-worn genre of joke, but it's no laughing matter, according to Angela Legg, a Ph.D. student in psychology at the University of California, Riverside.
Legg's research—done with Kate Sweeney, also of UC Riverside, and published online in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin—put a scientific lens to the question.
The answer, Legg found, depends on whether you are the giver or receiver of the bad news, and if the information will be used to modify behavior.
If you are on the receiving end, Legg says, experiments showed that an overwhelming majority—more than 75 percent—wanted the bad news first. "If people know they are going to