Stress is as Contagious as the Common Cold

Researchers at two universities are confirming what many of us probably already believed about stress -- it's highly, highly contagious.

What's the Latest?


Researchers at both St. Louis University and the University of California - San Francisco have found proof of what many of us probably already believed about stress -- it's highly contagious. The SLU study focused on the concept of secondhand stress. In their experiment, subjects were forced to watch stressful situations such as a man defending himself against false accusation. The researchers found that viewers "caught" the defendant's stress, evidenced by heightened cortisol levels in both. The UCSF study similarly found stress to be contagious, this time between babies and their mothers:

“Our research shows that infants ‘catch’ and embody the physiological residue of their mothers’ stressful experiences,” [said] lead researcher Sara Waters.

What's the Big Idea?

Scientists have long wondered about the mechanics of how emotions transfer from one person to another. The researchers at SLU came to the conclusion that stress is carried through the senses -- from facial expressions and body language to the nuances of speech. Although stress can transferred between strangers, both studies found the link to be greater between family members. The UCSF study found that mothers placed under stressful conditions would transfer those feelings upon being reunited with their infants, proving that it doesn't take mature brainpower to contract feelings of anxiety. Like the SLU researchers, the team at UCSF believe stress travels through the senses -- in this instance, through touch.

Keep Reading at Yahoo! UK & Ireland

Photo credit: Tigger11th / Shutterstock

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

People who engage in fat-shaming tend to score high in this personality trait

A new study explores how certain personality traits affect individuals' attitudes on obesity in others.

Pixabay
Mind & Brain
  • The study compared personality traits and obesity views among more than 3,000 mothers.
  • The results showed that the personality traits neuroticism and extraversion are linked to more negative views and behaviors related to obesity.
  • People who scored high in conscientiousness are more likely to experience "fat phobia.
Keep reading Show less

4 anti-scientific beliefs and their damaging consequences

The rise of anti-scientific thinking and conspiracy is a concerning trend.

Moon Landing Apollo
popular
  • Fifty years later after one of the greatest achievements of mankind, there's a growing number of moon landing deniers. They are part of a larger trend of anti-scientific thinking.
  • Climate change, anti-vaccination and other assorted conspiratorial mindsets are a detriment and show a tangible impediment to fostering real progress or societal change.
  • All of these separate anti-scientific beliefs share a troubling root of intellectual dishonesty and ignorance.
Keep reading Show less

Reigning in brutality - how one man's outrage led to the Red Cross and the Geneva Conventions

The history of the Geneva Conventions tells us how the international community draws the line on brutality.

Napoleon III at the Battle of Solferino. Painting by Adolphe Yvon. 1861.
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Henry Dunant's work led to the Red Cross and conventions on treating prisoners humanely.
  • Four Geneva Conventions defined the rules for prisoners of war, torture, naval and medical personnel and more.
  • Amendments to the agreements reflect the modern world but have not been ratified by all countries.
Keep reading Show less