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Emotional Similarity Helps Reduce Stress

Update Date: Jan 30, 2014 07:12 PM EST
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Two stressed people may equal less stress, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that spending time and talking with someone whose emotional response is similar can help decrease stress.

"For instance, when you're putting together an important presentation or working on a high-stakes project, these are situations that can be threatening and you may experience heightened stress," Sarah Townsend, assistant professor of management and organization at the USC Marshall School of Business, said in a news release. "But talking with a colleague who shares your emotional state can help decrease this stress."

The latest study involved 52 undergraduate students who participated in a study on public speaking. Participants were paired up and asked to give a speech while being video-recorded. However, the pairs of participants were encouraged to discuss with each other how they were feeling about making their speeches.

The findings revealed that "show that sharing a threatening situation with a person who is in a similar emotional state, in terms of her overall emotional profile, buffers individuals from experiencing the heightened levels of stress that typically accompany threat," according to researchers.

"Imagine you are one of two people working on an important project: if you have a lot riding on this project, it is a potentially stressful situation," Townsend said. "But having a coworker with a similar emotional profile can help reduce your experience of stress."

The findings are published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

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