We all know not to make life-changing choices under extreme stress. Now’s not the moment for surgical enhancements (F-cups have a downside; you just don’t see it). But we were surprised by the reason: Under stress, decision makers see the pros more than cons. When volunteers in a study at the University of South California were stressed—as usual, an impromptu speech was part of the experiment
—and then had to make a decision, they focused only on positive information. The lesson: Under stress we have a harder time controlling our urges, so if something is potentially rewarding we’ll see only its upside. This Pollyannaish impulse can lead to addictions (“What’s so wrong with smoking?”) and an inability to learn from bad choices (“Do plastic surgeons make G-cups?”).