Stress Spreads, Creates Heros
Keep calm and avoid drama queens. New research suggests that anxiety may be just as contagious as colds.
The latest study from Saint Louis University reveals that stress can spread, by triggering anxiety those who hang around a little too close.
Researchers also found that being near stress can also trigger courageous behavior in some people.
The goal of the study was to determine how susceptible strangers were to "secondhand stress". Participants were asked to perform a public speaking or mental arithmetic challenge while being observed.
After analyzing cortisol levels using saliva samples, researchers found that the stress responses in participants asked to observe were "proportional to that of their paired speakers and not influenced by gender," according to the Daily Mail.
Researchers explain that stress is contagious as it can spread via tone of voice, facial expressions, posture and even body odor, according to the New Zealand Herald.
"We have demonstrated that stress can be contagiously caught from targets to observers," study authors wrote in the paper.
'To find that in some people, some of the time, you can elicit these responses just by sitting and watching someone else under stress was somewhat surprising to us,' Tony Buchanan, associate professor in the Department of Psychology at Saint Louis University, told ABC.