A team of psychologists at McGill University in Canada have been developing a series of video games to train people in social situations to focus more on positive feedback rather than being distracted and deterred by perceived social slights or criticisms. The games are based on the emerging science of social intelligence, which has found that a significant part of daily stress comes from our social perceptions of the world. The games have already produced encouraging results in the lab but the researchers wanted to see what effect they had in a more life-like situation. They studied 23 employees at a call centre in Montreal who had to click on the one smiling face among a screen of frowning ones as quickly as possible while a control group played a different game without the smiling faces. The study lasted a week with the employees filling out daily questionnaires about their self-esteem and stress levels. At the end of the study both groups cortisol levels were measured as cortisol is considered to be an important marker of stress. The group playing the game with the smiling faces had 17% less cortisol than the other group.
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