Decision-making under Stress

A new review based on a research shows that acute stress affects the way the brain considers the advantages and disadvantages, causing it to focus on pleasure and ignore the possible negative (负面的) consequences of a decision.

The research suggests that stress may change the way people make choices in predictable ways.

 “Stress affects how people learn,” says Professor Mara Mather. “People learn better about positive than negative outcomes under stress.”

For example, two recent studies looked at how people learned to connect images(影像) with either rewards or punishments. In one experiment, some of the participants were first stressed by having to give a speech and do difficult math problems in front of an audience; in the other, some were stressed by having to keep their hands in ice water. In both cases, the stressed participants remembered the rewarded material more accurately and the punished material less accurately than those who hadn’t gone through the stress.

This phenomenon is likely not surprising to anyone who has tried to resist eating cookies or smoking a cigarette while under stress –at those moments, only the pleasure associated with such activities comes to mind. But the findings further suggest that stress may bring about a double effect. Not only are rewarding experiences remembered better, but negative consequences are also easily recalled.

The research also found that stress appears to affect decision-making differently in men and women. While both men and women tend to focus on rewards and less on consequences under stress, their responses to risk turn out to be different.

Men who had been stressed by the cold-water task tended to take more risks in the experiment while women responded in the opposite way. In stressful situations in which risk-taking can pay off big, men may tend to do better, when caution weighs more, however, women will win.

This tendency to slow down and become more cautious when decisions are risky might also help explain why women are less likely to become addicted than men: they may more often avoid making the risky choices that eventually harden into addiction.

64. We can learn from the passage that people under pressure tend to ______.
A. keep rewards better in their memory
B. recall consequences more effortlessly
C. make risky decisions more frequently
D. learn a subject more effectively

65. According to the research, stress affects people most probably in their ______.
A. ways of making choices B. preference for pleasure
C. tolerance of punishments D. responses to suggestions

66. The research has proved that in a stressful situation, ______.
A. women find it easier to fall into certain habits
B. men have a greater tendency to slow down
C. women focus more on outcomes
D. men are more likely to take risks


“In wilderness(荒野) is the preservation of the world.” This is a famous saying from a writer regarded as one of the fathers of environmentalism. The frequency with which it is borrowed mirrors a heated debate on environmental protection: whether to place wilderness at the heart of what is to be preserved.

As John Sauven of Greenpeace UK points out, there is a strong appeal in images of the wild, the untouched; more than anything else, they speak of the nature that many people value most dearly. The urge to leave the subject of such images untouched is strong, and the danger exploitation(开发) brings to such landscapes(景观) is real. Some of these wildernesses also perform functions that humans need—the rainforests, for example, store carbon in vast quantities. To Mr.Sauven, these ”ecosystem services” far outweigh the gains from exploitation.

Lee Lane, a visiting fellow at the Hudson Institute, takes the opposing view. He acknowledges that wildernesses do provide useful services, such as water conservation. But that is not, he argues, a reason to avoid all human presence, or indeed commercial and industrial exploitation. There are ever more people on the Earth, and they reasonably and rightfully want to have better lives, rather than merely struggle for survival. While the ways of using resources have improved, there is still a growing need for raw materials, and some wildernesses contain them in abundance. If they can be tapped without reducing the services those wildernesses provide, the argument goes, there is no further reason not to do so. Being untouched is not, in itself, a characteristic worth valuing above all others.
I look forwards to seeing these views taken further, and to their being challenged by the other participants. One challenge that suggests itself to me is that both cases need to take on the question of spiritual value a little more directly. And there is a practical question as to whether wildernesses can be exploited without harm.

This is a topic that calls for not only free expression of feelings, but also the guidance of reason. What position wilderness should enjoy in the preservation of the world obviously deserves much more serious thinking.

67. John Sauven holds that_____.
A. many people value nature too much
B. exploitation of wildernesses is harmful
C. wildernesses provide humans with necessities
D. the urge to develop the ecosystem services is strong

68. What is the main idea of Para. 3?
A. The exploitation is necessary for the poor people.
B. Wildernesses cannot guarantee better use of raw materials.
C. Useful services of wildernesses are not the reason for no exploitation.
D. All the characteristics concerning the exploitation should be treated equally.

69. What is the author’s attitude towards this debate?
A. Objective. B. Disapproving.
C. Sceptical. D. Optimistic.

70. Which of the following shows the structure of the passage?  

CP: Central Point P: Point Sp: Sub-point(次要点) C: Conclusion

第二节(共5小题 ;每小题2分,共10分)
Last year, researchers from the University of Michigan reported that empathy, the ability to understand other people, among college students had dropped sharply over the past 10 years. __71__ Today, people spend more time alone and are less likely to join groups and clubs.

Jennifer Freed, a co-director of a teen program, has another explanation. Turn on the TV, and you’re showered with news and reality shows full of people fighting, competing, and generally treating one another with no respect. __72__

There are good reasons not to follow those bad examples. Humans are socially related by nature. __73__ Researchers have also found that empathetic teenagers are more likely to have high self-respect. Besides, empathy can be a cure for loneliness, sadness, anxiety, and fear.

Empathy is also an indication of a good leader. In fact, Freed says, many top companies report that empathy is one of the most important things they look for in new managers. __74__ “Academics are important. But if you don’t have emotional (情感的) intelligence, you won’t be as successful in work or in your love life,” she says.

What’s the best way to up your EQ (情商)? For starters, let down your guard and really listen to others. __75__

To really develop empathy, you’d better volunteer at a nursing home or a hospital, join a club or a team that has a diverse membership, have a “sharing circle” with your family, or spend time caring for pets at an animal shelter.

A.Everyone is different, and levels of empathy differ from person to person.
B.That could be because so many people have replaced face time with screen time, the researchers said.
C.“One doesn’t develop empathy by having a lot of opinions and doing a lot of talking,” Freed says.
D.Humans learn by example—and most of the examples on it are anything but empathetic.
E.Empathy is a matter of learning how to understand someone else—both what they think and how they feel.
F.Good social skills—including empathy—are a kind of “emotional intelligence” that will help you succeed in many areas of life.
G.Having relationships with other people is an important part of being human—and having empathy is decisive to those relationships.