Following on from the study on gay birds, zebra finches once again have the spotlight after a scientific study using over 200 of them found that having an anxious partner can lead to early death. Researchers found mortality rates soared among those birds given mates programmed to suffer from anxiety, showing worry is 'contagious' between couples. Scientists believe the phenomenon applies to humans too.
Increased exposure to stress hormones for just a brief period when the small birds were chicks made them more stress reactive as adults and substantially reduced their life expectancy in adulthood.
The surprising conclusion of this study was that this effect was not merely confined to the anxious birds themselves but that also their mates suffered a large reduction in lifespan – regardless of their own levels of anxiety.