When stress becomes shared: exploring the emergence of team stress

S. Sassenus*, P. Van den Bossche, K. Poels

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Team stress is an emergent cognition in which members jointly appraise their current task situations. The sharedness of stress appraisals has been elaborately studied in social groups such as couples, families, friends, and small communities. However, insights into teams have been rather limited. Keeping in mind the effects of stress on teams, it is essential to understand how team stress will form in teams over time. Seven dyad teams were observed during a 13-min flight simulation task. Researchers used the course of action analysis to reconstruct and distinguish one top-down (i.e., the shared stress configuration) and three bottom-up configuration types (i.e., the mimic, interactive, and independent stress configurations). Our findings suggest that especially the bottom-up influence of social stressors plays an important role in the team stress, especially when members verbally interact with one another. This proposes that, in comparison to the influence of contextual factors, diverse empathic processes play a more distinct role in the formation of team stress than initially thought in teams. This article also intends to illustrate how team stress can be studied over time, and how this type of output can contribute to a more fine-grained theoretical understanding of how team stress forms over time in teams. Last, it also provides some basic practical insights into the design of stress feedback systems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)537-556
Number of pages20
JournalCognition, technology and work
Issue number4
Early online date31 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022


  • Team stress
  • Emergence
  • Cognitive stress appraisal
  • Stressor
  • Stimulated recall interview
  • SELF

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