The contagion of stress

  •  April 15, 2021

The contagion of stress

About 80% of medical consultations in the world are motivated by stress. But we are wrong to think that the problem is only those who are angry. According to German research, stress is contagious.

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A study by the Max Planck Institute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences, in partnership with Technische Universität Dresden (Germany), found that stress can be highly contagious.

And even without knowing the person, just being in the same environment to get stressed too.

"The fact that we can quantify empathic stress in the form of a hormonal discharge is surprising," said Dr. Veronika Engert, one of the study's authors.

During the survey, couples and strangers were divided into two groups.

In order to make participants stressed, one group had to solve a complicated math exercise and then its members were interviewed.

Behind a mirror, everyone was observed by members of the second group.

95% of the people in the first group who were put under stress showed signs of, as expected, stress.

But 26% of observers in the other group experienced increased cortisol levels as a result of empathic stress.

The impact was particularly high (40%) when a volunteer from the second group observed his partner in a stressful situation.

When he observed strangers experiencing the same situation, this impact was only 10%.

According to Dr. Veronika, the reaction happens even when we observe movie weights in similar situations.

Given this discovery, the contagion potential of stress cannot be ignored.

That is, if a co-worker or partner is nervous, or even the movie you chose brings the protagonists in tense situations, we will not get away with it.

So take the risk off by trying to calm down those around you and changing the TV channel in search of a romantic comedy.

After all, if our own problems drive us crazy, we don't need the influence of others to make things worse.

The Stress Contagion (April 2021)