Nav: Home

Your stress and mine

November 13, 2017

A new Tel Aviv University study finds that people often project their own experiences with stress onto their colleagues and employees, causing miscommunication and, often, missed opportunities.

"This study is the first to show that our own psychological mindset determines how we judge other peoples' responses to stress -- specifically, whether we perceive stress as positive or negative," said principal investigator Prof. Sharon Toker of TAU's Coller School of Management.

The research was published online in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

The positives and negatives of stress

"This research informs the way managers assess their employees' ability to take on different workloads. It may also inform our relationships with our spouses -- or with our children," Prof. Toker says. "For example, a typical 'tiger mom' is sure that stress is a good thing. She may simply not see how burned out her child may be."

Experiments conducted by Prof. Toker and researchers Prof. Daniel Heller and Nili Ben-Avi, also of TAU's Coller School of Management, found that a person's individual stress mindset colors the way he or she will perceive a colleague or employee's health, work productivity and degree of burnout.

"If a manager perceives that a certain employee doesn't suffer from stress, that manager will be more likely to consider the employee worthy of promotion," Prof. Toker says. "But because the manager believes that stress is a positive quality that leads to self-sufficiency, the manager will also be less likely to offer assistance if the employee needs it," Prof. Toker says.

Prof. Toker and her colleagues recruited 377 American employees for an online "stress-at-work" questionnaire. Participants were asked to read a description of "Ben," a fictitious employee who works long hours, has a managerial position and needs to multitask. The employees then rated his burnout levels and completed a stress mindset questionnaire about Ben.

"The more participants saw stress as positive and enhancing, the more they perceived Ben as experiencing less burnout and consequently rated him as more worthy of being promoted," Prof. Toker says.

Changing minds

The researchers also wanted to see whether they could change people's perceptions of stress and consequently change the way they perceive other peoples' stress. They conducted a series of further experiments among 600 employed Israelis and Americans to determine whether their stress mindset can be cultivated or changed.

The researchers randomly assigned the employees to "enhancing" or "debilitating" stress mindset groups of 120-350 people. Using a technique called "priming" -- prompting participants to think of the word "stress" in either positive or negative terms -- the participants were asked to write about past stress experiences in either a "positive/enhancing" or "negative/debilitating" way. They were then asked to read a description of Ben's workload and assess Ben's burnout, rate of productivity and psychosomatic symptoms.

Participants were also asked whether Ben should be promoted and whether they would be willing to help him with his workload.

"Study participants who were primed to have a positive/enhancing stress mindset rated Ben as suffering less from stress-related symptoms and were consequently more likely to recommend Ben for promotion. They were also less likely to offer him help," Prof. Heller says. "But those primed to feel as though stress was debilitating/negative felt that Ben was more burned out and consequently less fit to be promoted."

"Your stress mindset will affect your judgement of other people's stress responses," Ben-Avi concludes. "But we have shown that even if stress affects you positively, it can distort the way you see your colleagues, your employees, your spouses, even your own children. We should be very careful about assessing other people's stress levels."
-end-
American Friends of Tel Aviv University (AFTAU) supports Israel's most influential, comprehensive and sought-after center of higher learning, Tel Aviv University (TAU). TAU is recognized and celebrated internationally for creating an innovative, entrepreneurial culture on campus that generates inventions, startups and economic development in Israel. For three years in a row, TAU ranked 9th in the world, and first in Israel, for alumni going on to become successful entrepreneurs backed by significant venture capital, a ranking that surpassed several Ivy League universities. To date, 2,400 patents have been filed out of the University, making TAU 29th in the world for patents among academic institutions.

American Friends of Tel Aviv University

Related Stress Articles:

Captive meerkats at risk of stress
Small groups of meerkats -- such as those commonly seen in zoos and safari parks -- are at greater risk of chronic stress, new research suggests.
Stress may protect -- at least in bacteria
Antibiotics harm bacteria and stress them. Trimethoprim, an antibiotic, inhibits the growth of the bacterium Escherichia coli and induces a stress response.
Some veggies each day keeps the stress blues away
Eating three to four servings of vegetables daily is associated with a lower incidence of psychological stress, new research by University of Sydney scholars reveals.
Prebiotics may help to cope with stress
Probiotics are well known to benefit digestive health, but prebiotics are less well understood.
Building stress-resistant memories
Though it's widely assumed that stress zaps a person's ability to recall memory, it doesn't have that effect when memory is tested immediately after a taxing event, and when subjects have engaged in a highly effective learning technique, a new study reports.
Stress during pregnancy
The environment the unborn child is exposed to inside the womb can have a major effect on her or his development and future health.
New insights into how the brain adapts to stress
New research led by the University of Bristol has found that genes in the brain that play a crucial role in behavioural adaptation to stressful challenges are controlled by epigenetic mechanisms.
Uncertainty can cause more stress than inevitable pain
Knowing that there is a small chance of getting a painful electric shock can lead to significantly more stress than knowing that you will definitely be shocked.
Stress could help activate brown fat
Mild stress stimulates the activity and heat production by brown fat associated with raised cortisol, according to a study published today in Experimental Physiology.
Experiencing major stress makes some older adults better able to handle daily stress
Dealing with a major stressful event appears to make some older adults better able to cope with the ups and downs of day-to-day stress.

Related Stress Reading:

The Stress-Proof Brain: Master Your Emotional Response to Stress Using Mindfulness and Neuroplasticity
by Melanie Greenberg PhD (Author)

“For people suffering from stress, this book is a godsend.”
Kristin Neff, PhD, author of Self-Compassion

"Highly recommended for mental health professionals and consumer health readers looking to manage stress."
Library Journal (starred review)


Modern times are stressful—and it’s killing us. Unfortunately, we can’t avoid the things that stress us out, but we can change how we respond to them. In this breakthrough book, a clinical psychologist and neuroscience expert offers an original approach to... View Details


The Upside of Stress: Why Stress Is Good for You, and How to Get Good at It
by Kelly McGonigal (Author)

Drawing from groundbreaking research, psychologist and award-winning teacher Kelly McGonigal, PhD, offers a surprising new view of stress—one that reveals the upside of stress, and shows us exactly how to capitalize on its benefits.

You hear it all the time: stress causes heart disease; stress causes insomnia; stress is bad for you! But what if changing how you think about stress could make you happier, healthier, and better able to reach your goals? Combining exciting new research on resilience and mindset, Kelly McGonigal, PhD, proves that undergoing stress is not bad for... View Details


The End of Stress: Four Steps to Rewire Your Brain
by Don Joseph Goewey (Author)

We all know that stress is serious. If ignored too long, it becomes life-threateningly serious. Yet 83 percent of Americans are doing nothing about it. Don’t be one of them. There’s now a solution to stress that literally rewires your brain for a life of doing well, and being well, on your way to flourishing.

The most important brain discovery in the last 400 years concerns a simple but powerful shift in attitude that can change a brain wired for stress into a brain powered for success. This specific shift literally rewires the brain to deliver the full measure of intelligence,... View Details


Stress: 17 Stress Management Habits to Reduce Stress, Live Stress-Free & Worry Less
by Linda Westwood (Author)

Struggling With Stress? Discover 17 LIFE-CHANGING Habits That WILL Relax Your Worries, Calm You Down, & Keep You Happy!

From the Best Selling health & fitness author, Linda Westwood, comes Stress: 17 Stress Management Habits to Reduce Stress, Live Stress-Free & Worry Less! This book will jump-start your mood, reduce your stress, increase your energy levels, clear your mind, and improve your overall health!

Our lives are full of regular habits that we live by every day, and these habits determine who we are, as a result. That's where these stress... View Details


The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living
by Amit Sood (Author), Mayo Clinic (Author)

Have you ever driven several miles without noticing anything on the road, or read a page in a book without registering any of it? Do the day's worries and disappointments crowd your mind as you're trying to fall asleep at night? Do you feel stressed much of the time and aren't sure how to find peace? In this book, Amit Sood, M.D., M.Sc., a Mayo Clinic specialist in stress and resiliency, reveals how the mind's instinctive restlessness and shortsightedness generate stress and anxiety and presents strategies for living a more peaceful life. The book is based on the highly popular stress... View Details


The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook (New Harbinger Self-Help Workbook)
by Martha Davis (Author), Elizabeth Robbins Eshelman (Author), Matthew McKay (Author)

The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook broke new ground when it was first published in 1980, detailing easy, step-by-step techniques for calming the body and mind in an increasingly overstimulated world. Now in its sixth edition, this workbook, highly regarded by therapists and their clients, remains the go-to source for stress reduction strategies that can be incorporated into even the busiest lives.

This new edition is updated with powerful relaxation techniques based on the latest research, and draws from a variety of proven treatment methods, including progressive... View Details


A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook (A New Harbinger Self-Help Workbook)
by Bob Stahl (Author), Elisha Goldstein (Author), Saki Santorelli (Afterword), Jon Kabat-Zinn (Afterword)

Stress and pain are nearly unavoidable in our daily lives; they are part of the human condition. This stress can often leave us feeling irritable, tense, overwhelmed, and burned-out. The key to maintaining balance is responding to stress not with frustration and self-criticism, but with mindful, nonjudgmental awareness of our bodies and minds. Impossible? Actually, it's easier than it seems.

In just weeks, you can learn mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), a clinically proven program developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Full Catastrophe Living. MBSR is effective in... View Details


Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome
by James L. Wilson (Author), Jonathan V Wright (Foreword)

This is an incredibly informative and reader-friendly book about a common debilitating medical condition that goes largely undiagnosed and untreated. ADRENAL FATIGUE: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome is a very empowering work cram-packed with vital information about a condition that very likely affects millions of people. View Details


Retraining the Brain: A 45-Day Plan to Conquer Stress and Anxiety
by Dr. Frank Lawlis (Author)

Stress relief that works from the New York Times bestselling author of The ADD Answer and the chief content advisor for the Dr. Phil show

With his bestselling books, Frank Lawlis has brought psychological relief to millions. In his latest book, he addresses one of the most common challenges of everyday life - dealing with stress and anxiety.

In Retraining the Brain, Dr. Lawlis clearly explains the neurological factors that make stress so traumatizing and lays out a powerful plan for changing our brains to improve the way we cope. The secret is... View Details


Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises
by Timothy F. Geithner (Author)

New York Times Bestseller

Washington Post Bestseller

Los Angeles Times Bestseller

Stress Test is the story of Tim Geithner’s education in financial crises.

 
As president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and then as President Barack Obama’s secretary of the Treasury, Timothy F. Geithner helped the United States navigate the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, from boom to bust to rescue to recovery. In a candid, riveting, and historically illuminating memoir, he takes... View Details

Best Science Podcasts 2017

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2017. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Going Undercover
Are deception and secrecy categorically wrong? Or can they be a necessary means to an end? This hour, TED speakers share stories of going undercover to explore unknown territory, and find the truth. Guests include poet and activist Theo E.J. Wilson, journalist Jamie Bartlett, counter-terrorism expert Mubin Shaikh, and educator Shabana Basij-Rasikh.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#452 Face Recognition and Identity
This week we deep dive into the science of how we recognize faces and why some of us are better -- or worse -- at this than others. We talk with Brad Duchaine, Professor of Psychology at Dartmouth College, about both super recognizers and face blindness. And we speak with Matteo Martini, Psychology Lecturer at the University of East London, about a study looking at twins who have difficulty telling which one of them a photo was of. Charity Links: Union of Concerned Scientists Evidence For Democracy Sense About Science American Association for the Advancement of Science Association for Women...