Have you ever exited a doctor's appointment bummed out about your weight, how often you exercise, or how often you floss? Recent research out of the University of California at San Diego suggests that women may be more likely to leave with a guilt-trip than dudes.
In a set of two studies, researchers looked into how people react to feeling shame or guilt based on an interaction at the doctor's office. People who looked at an interaction as a critique of their behavior were more likely to have a positive reaction -- for example, starting to floss more. But people who looked at it as a critique of them as a person were more likely to have a negative reaction -- such as stopping trips to the dentist altogether. Respondents were also more likely to report a negative reaction if they felt that their doc had purposefully made them feel bad.
Not only did a higher percentage of women than men report feeling shame and guilt during trips to the doctor, but women also had negative reactions more often. The study authors aren't sure why that's the case, and further research is needed, says senior study author Christine R. Harris, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of California at San Diego. "It could be that somehow doctors interact with women differently, which leads women to feel more shame or guilt," she says. "But it's also just as likely that women hear or perceive the same interaction differently than men do."
Nevertheless, Harris suggests that in order to avoid those no-good feelings, you should try framing the conversation around your behavior. For example, if your doctor says you need to lose some weight, skip the self-fat talk and instead talk to your doc about specific actions you can take to make that happen.
Tell us: Have you ever felt shamed or guilty after a trip to the doctor's office? What did your doctor say that made you feel bad? Did it discourage you from going to the doctor again? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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