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Human connection bolsters the immune system

Bert UchinoOne of the most important things kindness can do is ease our reaction to stress. In one experiment at Bert N. Uchino’s lab at the University of Utah, dozens of undergraduate students were brought into an empty room, seated in a chair and told they had been accused of shoplifting. They had three minutes to formulate their responses.

Their hearts began to race. Their blood pressure spiked. Stress hormones flooded their systems. But in some instances, before leaving the room, the experimenter would tell the student: “If you need me for any reason or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask me. I appreciate your participation in this experiment, and I’d like to be helpful to you should you need any help.”


In those cases, the students’ hearts didn’t beat quite so fast. Their stress responses were much less extreme.“These data suggest that simply having potential access to support is sufficient to foster adaptation to stress,” Uchino and his colleagues wrote.

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Last Updated: 6/4/21