How Stress Can Help Our Social Lives

How Stress Can Help Our Social Lives

We all know that stress is not something good for us. Events that make us frustrated or angry can generate that feeling of tension that becomes a burden too big. That’s how stress works, to put it in simple terms. 

Do you also believe, at least sometimes, that human behavior is weird? Well, a new study that was published in Evolution and Human Behavior seems to confirm that by suggesting that stress can actually help us with our social life. The research claims that if a person manifests certain stress behaviors, he or she can become more likable to others. There are plenty of behaviors that can show that a person is stressed: self-grooming, touching the face, fidgeting with objects, head-scratching, and more.

Jamie Whitehouse, one of the researchers involved in the study, explained as quotes:

We wanted to find out what advantages there might be in signaling stress to others, to help explain why stress behaviors have evolved in humans.

If producing these behaviors leads to positive social interactions from others who want to help, rather than negative social interactions from those who want to compete with you, then these behaviors are likely to be selected in the evolutionary process. We are a highly cooperative species compared to many other animals, and this could be why behaviors which communicate weakness were able to evolve.

Thirty-one participants were first recruited for the study, and they had to respond to surveys, provide saliva samples, and participate in a stress-inducing task known as the Trier-Social Stress Test. The researchers also recruited other 100 people to rate the results and determine by watching stimuli videos, how stressed and likable the first participants had become. They’ve also assessed the level of emotional expressivity and the level of social connection.


Cristian Antonescu

Even since he was a child, Cristian was staring curiously at the stars, wondering about the Universe and our place in it. Today he's seeing his dream come true by writing about the latest news in astronomy. Cristian is also glad to be covering health and other science topics, having significant experience in writing about such fields.

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