The following is a summary of “Social high performers under stress behave more prosocially and detect happy emotions better in a male sample,” published in the October 2023 issue of Psychoneuroendocrinology by Schiller, et al.
There is more psychosocial worry in the world, affecting all parts of our lives. But it’s still unclear when stress makes the “tend-and-befriend” or “fight-or-flight” social method more or less effective. The Researchers checked to see if the different results from earlier studies could be explained by considering how different people handle stress in social situations. To do this, they present the new Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) social performance measure, which is based on reports from two separate witnesses. In addition, they use the TSST-EEG, a new setup that lets them collect electroencephalographic (EEG) data during stress inside a cell that is electrically protected.
The Researchers used a group of 59 healthy male participants to study how they behaved (like sharing resources) and thought (like recognizing emotional expressions on faces) while they were under acute psychosocial stress (n = 31) or no stress (control condition; n = 28) and while EEG was being recorded. High-performing individuals were more helpful to others during stress. They could better tell the difference between happy and neutral feelings on both a behavioral and a neurophysiological level (as shown by differences in the strength of a N170-like reaction). Overall, their results show that the new TSST social performance measure and the new TSST-EEG setting are helpful.
Their work gives us essential information about how to deal with psychological stress in a healthy or unhealthy way by showing that how well you do on the TSST regarding social skills is linked to patterns in behavior, thoughts, and brain activity. More studies on stress should look into how differences in social performance during stress affect social interactions. This will help us learn more about how psychological stress affects people’s behavior.