Searching for this topic is incredibly tedious because the word "no" is the main point of interest and I always end up on sites saying how "saying no is good for your health" but I am looking for the medical evidence of this claim.

I remember very faintly hearing about measurable physical effects on a person in a situation where this person says the word "no" to something. There was an experiment where scientists (I suppose neuro-scientists?) were able to measure the effect of saying "no". Colloquially speaking the body was "closing" in a sense that the person went in some unconscious defence mode, stress levels were rising, change in muscle tone were measurable etc.

When I also remember correctly these effects were measurable even without exposing the person to a specific situation. Just saying "no" wholeheartedly triggered those effects.

Did someone hear about this one? I am looking for any clue to get more information on that.

Edit: I add to the excellent hint from Vadim: I am indeed looking for a credible source where experiments were conducted in a controlled manner and not someone sticking electrodes on people in the mall :D. And I also think this experiment would be hard to do right in the first place since you basically would have to deprive the people from any external stimuli which by itself would probably also already cause side effects.


Most of the claims that "saying no is good for one's health" are grounded in psychology. In other words, they are not experimentally verifiable. Likewise, health here refers not only literally to physical health, but also to psychological health, which in itself is something hard to define.

Surely, in situations of high stress saying "no" can actually result in some measurable responses, in which case it can be studied within the context physiology and neuroscience. However, this would address only a small part of the situationd covered by the original claim - discarding any effects on psychological health as well as long-lasting effects on the physical health.

To summarize: for a scientific study the claim needs to be made more specific, i.e., apply to well-defined situations and responses.

I feel that a clarification is needed, lest what I wrote above is interpreted as a negative view of psychology.

I am not claiming that all of the psychology is outside of the scientific method, but a big part of it is - at least outside of being possible to study in a laboratory setting. And this is by no means unimportant part, in terms of the role it plays in our society. While words not scientific often carry negative connotation, in practice any scientist should recognize that scientific method has its limitations - many phenomena (psychological, social, economic, etc.) are not sufficiently reproducible and controllable to study experimentally, yet too important to dismiss.

  • $\begingroup$ @user1136 I never said all/whole. I added a clarification, lest my answer is misinterpreted. $\endgroup$ – Vadim Dec 16 '20 at 10:02
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    $\begingroup$ I think your claims are likely false and certainly misleading. You need to add citations to support your opinions here $\endgroup$ – theforestecologist Jan 15 at 13:29
  • $\begingroup$ @theforestecologist Could you provide a more detailed comment? The two claims that I make are a) there seems to be no proper scientific research on the subject and b) any such research should be conducted using proper scientific procedures. Your comment doesn't make much sense to me, and I would appreciate a clarification. $\endgroup$ – Vadim Jan 16 at 9:20
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    $\begingroup$ @Vadim sure. Overall, you make a lot of your statements sound definitive, but you don't provide much rationale nor any support for your claims. Examples: Sentence 1: you say "most" ; where is that claim coming from? Can you cite multiple studies or a review? Sentence 2: why aren't they experimentally verifiable? That seems like your opinion without any support. Sentence 3: i'd guess a lot of therapists would disagree. Etc. Also, your disclaimer is appreciated but is also narrow in scope given the immense amount of psychology research that has been done in the last 80+ years $\endgroup$ – theforestecologist Jan 18 at 1:04

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