Stressed out people can reduce their worries if they share their problems with people who feel the same way in a similar situation, finds a new research.
Sarah Townsend, from USC Marshall School of Business, said that one of her study's main discoveries is the benefit gained by spending time and conversing with someone whose emotional response is in line with yours.
For instance, when you're putting together an important presentation or working on a high-stakes project, these are situations that can be threatening and you may experience heightened stress, but talking with a colleague who shares your emotional state can help decrease this stress, Townsend said.
For the study, Townsend and co-authors Heejung S. Kim of UC Santa Barbara and Batja Mesquita of University of Leuven, Belgium, had 52 female undergraduate students participate in a study on public speaking.
Participants were paired up and asked to give a speech while being video-recorded. However, prior to this, the pairs of participants were encouraged to discuss with each other how they were feeling about making their speeches. Each participant's levels of the stress-related hormone cortisol were measured before, during and after their speeches.
The results showed that sharing a threatening situation with a person who is in a similar emotional state, in terms of her overall emotional profile, buffers individuals from experiencing the heightened levels of stress that typically accompany threat.
In other words, when you're facing a threatening situation, interacting with someone who is feeling similarly to you decreases the stress you feel, Townsend added.
The study is published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.