Before you sit down to a Netflix marathon session of Scandal orBreaking Bad, consider yourself warned. A new study suggests that when we watch characters endure stressful situations, we experience stress ourselves. In other words, anxiety is contagious.
Researchers from Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences and Dresden University of Technology in Germany measured people’s stress response to watching either a loved one, or a stranger of the opposite sex, in a stressful situation – specifically being asked to do a mock job interview and mental arithmetic.
Around one in four “observers” (26%) experienced heightened stress levels – measured using salivary cortisol levels – when watching the “targets”. As may be expected, the observer was more likely to be stressed if the person they were watching was their partner (40% of observers becoming stressed) rather than a stranger (10%).
The positive, the study may show that most humans are innately empathetic and it often upsets us when we see loved ones – and in some cases, strangers – in stressful circumstances. The negative, watch too many riveting dramas and you’ll end up on blood pressure meds.
It was published in the medical journal Psychoneuroendocrinology – it has been accepted for publication and is currently available as an unedited manuscript. This is not the final publication of the study and may include some errors.
Ayesha is a writer, dancer, and the founder of WomenLovePower.com, a tech-enabled brand that provides resources on charm, seduction, sacred sexuality, and feminine warfare. A self-confessed afromantic, Ayesha's first love is romantic fiction and poetry. When away from her keyboard, she enjoys New Jack Swing throwbacks, 90's sitcoms, running, sleep, and Cabernet.
You are invited to follow your bliss...
Get sexy love notes and sizzling stories sent directly to your inbox.
Thank you for subscribing! xo, Ayesha
Something went wrong.
We respect your privacy and take protecting it seriously