September 8, 2015
Stress mindset: a fierce enemy or a valuable ally?
A study conducted at Yale university shows that stress mindsets might influence psychological health and work performance.
The main purpose of this study in 388 people was to examine if a more positive perception of stress, a “stress-enhancing” condition, or a more negative vision, a “stress-debilitating” condition, could have differential outcomes on psychological health and work performance. In order to test this, three groups were formed; a control group (61 people) and two experimental groups, “stress-enhancing” (163 people) and “stress-debilitating” (164 people). The two experimental groups watched three videos in one week and the topics were health, performance and learning/growth. The “stress-enhancing” group videos were more precise and positive about stress consequences on people and the “stress-debilitating” group videos only showed the negative consequences of stress (chronic stress). Both groups completed questionnaires measuring stress mindsets and psychological well-being (depressive and anxiety symptoms).
Results show that this simple intervention might have changed people’s stress mindset. The “stress-enhancing” group showed a more positive stress mindset while the “stress-debilitating” group showed a more negative one. In addition, authors explain that, comparatively to the pre-intervention measure, the “stress-enhancing” group was the only one to show a reduction on depressive and anxiety symptoms. Finally, this group was also the only one where an increase of self-reported work performance measure was observed compared to the pre-intervention.
This study emphasizes the relevance of stress mindsets, a more precise and positive comprehension of stress and its consequences on psychological health and work performance. And you, how do you perceive stress?