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Study finds stress is contagious

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WASHINGTON — Feeling stressed? A new study finds stress can be contagious.

The Max Planck Institute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences and the Technische Universität Dresden conducted a study to see whether or not being around a stressed person can induce stress, TIME reports.

Researchers concluded that observing a stressed individual can release the stress hormone, cortisol, leading to empathic stress.

“The fact that we could actually measure this empathic stress in the form of a significant hormone release was astonishing,” one of the study’s authors, Veronika Engert says in a press release.

The stress tests given to subjects were comprised of difficult interviews and mental math problems. Behavior analysts examined how observers, watching through a one-way mirror, reacted to the subjects put under stress.

Some observers watched subjects via video. Analysts reported increased cortisol levels of 24 percent of the video observers.

“This means that even television programmes depicting the suffering of other people can transmit that stress to viewers,” Engert says.

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