People choose to learn about health, world news based on feelings, study finds

People choose whether to seek or avoid information about their health, finances, and personal traits based on how they think it will make them feel and how useful it is, a study published Friday by the journal Nature Communications found.

Based on an analysis of more than 500 participants, most people fall into one of three “information-seeking” categories.

These are people who consider the impact of information on their feelings, those that consider how useful information will be for making decisions, and those that mostly seek information about issues they think about often, the researchers said.

The information people decide to expose themselves to has implications for their health, financial status, and relationships.

By better understanding why people choose to get informed, researchers, educators, and mental health professionals may be able to develop ways to convince people to educate themselves on certain issues, the researchers said.

“Vast amounts of information are now available to individuals, [including] everything from information about your genetic make-up to information about social issues and the economy,” study co-author Tali Sharot said in a press release.

“We wanted to find out: How do people decide what they want to know? And why do some people actively seek out information,” said Sharot, a professor of psychology and language sciences at University College London in England.

This includes information about controversial and potentially troubling topics such as COVID-19, financial inequality and climate change, she said.

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