Stress and Belief About Stress

Jeremy Dean over at PsyBlog1 and Chris Berdik at The Boston Globe2 discuss an interesting study about stress by Alia Crum3. Crum wanted to see if how we consider stress changes how we experience it. So one group of people were shown a video explaining the downsides of stress. The other group was shown a video extolling the virtues of stress. A few weeks later each group was asked to asses wow their weeks went. Not surprisingly, each group reported results that were in line with the videos they were shown.

One might attribute this to percipients merely parroting back what they thought the authors wanted them to say, but Dean notes, “thinking that stress is enhancing was associated with lower levels of cortisol, a hormone closely associated with the stress response. In other words, people’s physiological reaction to stress was better when they endorsed the idea that stress is enhancing.”

So our own beliefs about stress will determine how stress expresses itself in our bodies. Believe stress is bad for you and it certainly will be!

Citations

  1. Rethinking The Stress Mindset: Can You Find The Upside of Pressure? []
  2. How to make stress work in your favor, March 10, 2013 []
  3. Crum, et. al, 2013 []
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