Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Jayson L. Dibble

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At some point in their lives, people find themselves in the position of having to share bad news. Prior research suggests that, compared with good news, people will delay the onset of bad news. Prior research also suggests that this delay might convey information about the news valence (whether the news is good or bad) to the receiver. The current research explores whether receivers of news can infer the valence of the news based on the length of time a sender waits before sharing the news. We begin by testing whether people in general tend to attach valence judgments to delays of varying lengths. Participants will listen to a pre-recorded message of a test-scorer who is in the process of communicating to a test-taker a score on an important exam. The messages will be manipulated to feature either a ten-second or two-second delay before the test results begin to be shared. Participants will judge whether the score about to be shared will be high or low. If people in general tend to associate longer delays with bad news and shorter delays with good news, participants should rate the ten-second delay messages as signaling lower test scores relative to the two-second delay messages.