A Problem Shared Is A Problem Halved Essay Examples

A problem shared, really IS a problem halved: Discussing problems with people in similar situations reduces stress levels

  • Researchers asked participants to make a speech while being filmed
  • Participants were put into pairs to discuss how they felt about the task
  • Their stress levels were taken before, during and after the speech
  • Those who discussed their fears had lower levels of stress overall

By Victoria Woollaston

Published: 18:46 GMT, 30 January 2014 | Updated: 18:47 GMT, 30 January 2014

The old saying 'a problem shared is a problem halved' may have been based on scientific fact, according to a new study.

Researchers from California have proved that the best way to beat stress is to share your feelings - and sharing with someone in the same situation yields the best results.

This is because sharing a threatening situation with a person in a similar emotional state 'buffers individuals from experiencing the heightened levels of stress that typically accompany threat', claimed the study.

Feeling stressed? Researchers from California have proved that the best way to beat it is to share your feelings with someone in the same situation. This is because sharing a threatening situation with a person in a similar emotional state 'buffers' individuals from the feeling of fear brought on by the perceived threat


A study from the University of Hawaii claimed stress can be as contagious as the common cold and you can actually ‘catch’ other people’s anxieties.

It found that if you are sitting next to a moaning colleague who goes into meltdown about the slightest thing, or spends the day whining, it could give you ‘second-hand stress’.

Psychologist Professor Elaine Hatfield said ‘passive’ or second-hand stress can quickly spread around the workplace.

A total of 52 female undergraduates were paired up and asked to make a speech while being taped by researchers from the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business.

Prior to each speech, participants were encouraged to discuss how they felt about public speaking with the researchers, and their fellow participants. Other participants were told not to discuss their feelings.

Levels of the stress hormone cortisol were measured before, during and after each participants speech.

The researchers found that stress levels were significantly reduced when the participants were able to vocalise how they felt about the speeches.

This was most noticeable when the discussion was had with a fellow participant, in which they shared a common fear.

Lead researcher Professor Sarah Townsend believes sharing experiences could help people deal with stress in the workplace. She claims that talking with a colleague who shares the same emotional state will lighten the load, decrease stress and help improve productivity

Lead researcher Professor Sarah Townsend, believes sharing experiences could help people deal with stress in the workplace.

'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.'

'Imagine you are one of two people working on an important project: if you have a lot riding on this project, it is a potentially stressful situation,' added Professor Townsend.

'But having a coworker with a similar emotional profile can help reduce your experience of stress.'

It is hoped the research may help people from different cultural backgrounds communicate better in the workplace.

The findings were published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

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New York / Heidelberg, 10 October 2012

A problem shared is a problem halved

Study highlights the power of positive relationships for girls' mental health

Further information: 


The experience of being bullied is particularly detrimental to the psychological health of school girls who don’t have social support from either adults or peers, according to a new study by Dr. Martin Guhn and colleagues from the University of British Columbia in Canada. In contrast, social support from adults or peers (or both) appears to lessen the negative consequences of bullying in this group, namely anxiety and depression. The work is published online in Springer's Journal of Happiness Studies.Guhn and his team looked at whether the combination of high levels of bullying and low levels of adult as well as peer support have a multiplicative negative effect on children's well-being. A total of 3,026 ten-year-old school children from 72 schools in Vancouver, Canada, took part in the study and completed questionnaires, which assessed their satisfaction with life, their self-esteem, and their levels of anxiety and depression. The authors looked at whether the ratings for these factors differed, according to the quality of the children’s relationships with both adults and their peers and how often they felt victimized.Overall, girls were more likely to report positive relationships with both adults and peers, higher satisfaction with life, higher self-esteem as well as higher anxiety levels. There were no differences between boys' and girls' reported levels of bullying and depression. However, as many as 1 in 7 girls and 1 in 6 boys felt victimized several times a week, with verbal and social victimization more commonly reported than physical bullying; cyber bullying appeared to be relatively low.The authors also found that positive relationships with adults and peers were strongly linked to life satisfaction and self-esteem, whereas bullying was strongly linked to depressive symptoms and anxiety. In addition, victimization was particularly strongly linked to low life satisfaction, low self-esteem and more depressive symptoms in girls who reported low levels of social support from adults as well as from peers.The authors conclude: "Our findings have implications for promoting children's well-being in school and community contexts, supporting interventions that foster relationship-building skills and simultaneously reduce victimization. In other words, children need more than the absence of risk factors to experience good mental health and well-being."ReferenceGuhn M et al (2012). A population study of victimization, relationships, and well-being in middle childhood. Journal of Happiness Studies; DOI 10.1007/s10902-012-9393-8The full-text article is available to journalists on request.

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