Do you sit next to a whingeing workmate who constantly moans about fellow colleagues, workload or politics?
Do you listen patiently while she worries about bosses, boyfriends or boring bank issues?
If you do, you could be suffering more than just a bent ear, as a new study reveals we can actually 'catch' other people's stress.
Professor Elaine Hatfield, a psychologist from the University of Hawaii, discovered that stress can be as contagious as a cold, and that 'passive' or second-hand stress and anxiety can quickly spread around the workplace.
'People seem to be capable of mimicking others' facial, vocal, and postural expressions with stunning rapidity,' Hatfield said.
'As a consequence, they are able to feel themselves into those other emotional lives to a surprising extent.'
Prof. Hatfield's study found that we are effectively sponges, soaking up so-called emotional contagions emitted by those around us.
As we absorb other people's stress, we can begin to feel stressed too - and to focus on issues that might be troubling us.
In part, we take on our friend or colleague's stress in an attempt to identify with them, but also because the constant stream of discontent poured into our ears acts as a depressant, turning our minds to negative thoughts.
And Professor Hatfield found that not only do we take on other people's negative thought patterns, we can also start to subconsciously take on their stressed out body language, causing us to hunch our shoulders and furrow our brows when we talk to them.
'In conversation, people automatically and continuously mimic and synchronise their movements with the facial expressions, voices, postures, movements, and instrumental behaviors of others,' Professor Hatfield says.
'Women are more at risk because they tend to be more in tune to other people's feelings.'
2011-11-10 13:07 编辑：crystal156