The Washington PostThe Washington Post

Can stress spread like a virus? What animals tell us.

By Bishop Sand

30 Oct 2022 · 4 min read

Editor's Note

Is stress contagious? Yes, says neuroscientist Tony W. Buchanan, a professor at St. Louis University.

Is stress contagious?

Yes, says neuroscientist Tony W. Buchanan, a professor at St. Louis University. In 2010, he measured the response of people who were simply observing stress in others. Buchanan found that the observers' cortisol levels spiked via a phenomenon known as stress contagion - the spread of stress from person to person like a virus.

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