QUESTION TEXT: In a study of heart patients awaiting treatment…
QUESTION TYPE: Complete the Argument
CONCLUSION: Stress can decrease pain.
REASONING: Patients who are waiting in uncertainty for treatment are less likely to experience pain. Uncertainty is stressful.
ANALYSIS: Note that every patient is waiting for some kind of treatment. If patients don’t need surgery, they’ll get something else. This wait is stressful. But oddly, the stressed group has less pain. The only thing we can conclude is that stress somehow reduces pain.
Common sense and science tell us that stress doesn’t reduce pain. Normally, the LSAT doesn’t contradict common sense. But here, the right answer does. Common sense is a useful guide, but you must ignore it when it contradicts the question.
Note that the high pain group hasn’t been selected for surgery. Instead, they merely know what treatment they’ll get, which could include non-surgical treatments.
- CORRECT. This is the best answer. The only differences between the groups are that one knows what treatment they’ll receive, and the other doesn’t. The high uncertainty group has more stress but less pain, so it’s reasonable to say that the stress must be reducing pain.
- All we know about the high pain group is that they know what treatment they’re getting. But we can’t say they have this knowledge because they’re in pain, so there’s no clear benefit.
- Not so. The group that didn’t receive information had a lower rate of pain. It seems like their condition was better, not worse.
- Hard to say. The passage never says what causes reduced blood flow to the heart. Stress could well be a cause, and also an effect.
- This was very tempting. But the stimulus didn’t say that the high pain group was receiving surgery! It instead said the high pain group knew what treatment they would receive. That could include drugs or some other therapy. So we have no information about surgery itself.
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