Is Stress Contagious?
A new report finds that not only do babies pick up on their mother’s stress but their bodies will also mimic physiological changes. Researchers found that when mothers were stressed and then reunited with their infant, the child quickly adopted his/her mother’s stress response, including a corresponding change in heart rate. Lead author Dr. Sara Waters writes, “Before infants are verbal and able to express themselves fully, we can overlook how exquisitely attuned they are to the emotional tenor of their caregivers… Your infant may not be able to tell you that you seem stressed or ask you what is wrong, but our work shows that, as soon as she is in your arms, she is picking up on the bodily responses accompanying your emotional state and immediately begins to feel in her own body your own negative emotion.”
Psychological Science, February 2014