Calm down! Anxiety is contagious

01 Feb

Like ebola, and people clearing their throats at the theatre, emotions are contagious. One example: if you’re unhappy, and then for some reason you become happy – a new relationship, say – according to one 2014 study, a close friend living within a mile of you has a 25% greater chance of becoming happy themselves. (On the flipside, researchers have found that college students obliged to share rooms with depressed classmates are at heightened risk of “catching” their thinking styles.) And it’s been shown that merely seeing someone acting stressed, even a stranger, can elevate your own levels of cortisol. From an evolutionary point of view, this isn’t surprising. After all, if a person in your visual field is making faces as if a marauding tribe is about to attack you from behind, that’s probably because they are – in which case, being suddenly on edge could save your life. These days, when marauding tribes usually aren’t an imminent risk, anxiety isn’t much use. Sadly, it remains contagious.

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Posted by on February 1, 2017 in Uncategorized



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