Now that we are heading into the last few weeks of the semester, it appears my fellow Bearcats are losing more brain cells rather than learning anything.
It’s not their fault that they suddenly can’t remember how crosswalks work or that the door they are trying to push is actually a pull. They are just tired, stressed and trying their best.
Stress from finals can cause the exact opposite of what our teachers want: their students forgetting everything they’ve learned over the semester. It’s not surprising that stress can be linked to poor decision making.
A 2018 research study conducted by Anthony J. Porcelli and Mauricio R. Delgado found that chronic, or long-lasting, stress can impact how the brain makes decisions.
In research on rats, they found that chronic stress shifted them from being goal oriented to them forming habits around the reward and punishment aspect of their stress.
College students aren’t much more evolved than rats — we really are nothing but diseased creatures with a weird obsession with cheese.
Stress also doesn’t just influence our decisions, but it also has its physical effects. That’s right, the pumpkin spice latte with an excessive amount of espresso added that I downed before class isn’t the only reason my heart is beating a mile a minute.
Research conducted by Stephanie E. Emma and Edelgard Wulferta in 2018 found stress can be linked to higher heart rates in college men.
Their research also looked at the Iowa Gambling Task, a study where participants were asked to give a public speech before participating in a gambling game, and saw that participants not only showed physical symptoms but also made decisions slower than their relaxed counterparts.
However, more research has found that people who are stressed tend to think more positively.
Mara Mathers, the coauthor of the “Current Directions in Psychological Science,” said the results were surprising. She also said that it creates a link between stress and addiction.
“When people under stress are making a difficult decision, they may pay more attention to the upsides of the alternatives they’re considering and less to the downsides,” Mathers said.
This probably explains why my roommate suddenly finds the need to do the dishes instead of studying for her test and why I can’t stop myself from buying a new pack of stickers for my planner when I already have over 100 sheets of unused stickers.
While stress does make college students far more stupid than usual — which is hard for us to accomplish — it is treatable, and finals will be over before we know it. Then, the stress of tests can be replaced with our fancy, festive holiday stress.