How should people disclose bad news? All bad news is not equal, and different kinds of news may call for different prescriptions for disclosure. This application describes and tests a model to guide the transmission of bad news with the purpose of promoting the best outcomes for the recipient. A review of the literature reveals that few studies address the issue of giving bad news well. The studies are not theoretically grounded and limit themselves to specific news types or contexts. I present a model of bad news transmission that is applicable to a variety of situations, from disclosing the death of a child to disclosing the possibility of job layoffs. The model specifies that characteristics of the outcome (severity, likelihood and controllability) dictate the best way guide the recipient of the news towards the best outcomes. Seven studies will examine 1) the most appropriate ways to respond to various types of bad news, 2) whether people naturally make the most appropriate responses, and 3) the role of the bad news discloser in promoting the appropriate response n the recipient of the news.
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