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What about animals?

The talk of Kelly McGonigal implies that stress is only problematic when individuals classify it as bad. However, stress is also affecting animals, with stressed individuals living less long (e.g. http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/279/1729/709.short). I have difficulties to conceive how animals could classify stress as bad and suffer from it (because of their limited cognitive abilities), but also how humans could not be sensitive to stress when animals are. Any ideas how to reconcile the two?


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    Sep 11 2013: chrisophe, would you mind telling me what stresses Kelly is talking about. I suppose animals could be more sensitive to stress because they don't have as much of an ability to change a situation to their liking, or ask for compensation. For example, if a freeway takes an animal's habitat, the animal can't fight it or ask for help relocating, whereas human beings can fight it or at least fight for help relocating (nowadays, the government usually gives people a check when a government project takes people's home, but perhaps the government didn't always do that, perhaps there was a time when people had to fight for it.)
    • Sep 11 2013: Thanks Greg for your answer.

      I think Kelly is referring to the normal stress, even though this was not very clear in her talk.

      There is an important distinction to be made between chronic and normal stress. And the causes of chronic stress are much more difficult to change than for normal stress, even for humans.

      So I still think that humans facing chronic stress will have health consequences, independently from how they judge stress.

      However, I still have not read the paper Kelly is referring to, and it might help understand better what she meant.

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