A neuroscientist is looking for volunteers to help her understand how journalist cope with their stressful jobs.
Senior lecturer at MIT in America Dr Tara Swart launched her research in association with the London Press Club last night at the Corinthia Hotel in London.
She is carrying out the research as part of her organisation The Unlimited Mind which gives advice to top business leaders on how to deal with stress and develop resilience.
A press statement announcing the research said: “There is intense pressure on journalists of all disciplines: daily or hourly deadlines; live television; accountability and exposure; instant online feedback; being in the public eye; social media interaction; a culture of presumed excellence.
“Coupled with these demands is the expectation to be creative, have a deep understanding of the news in your sector, grow audience and readership, and attract advertisers in an uncertain industry with increasing public scrutiny. This requires huge mental resilience; the ability to resist the effects of stress.”
Dr Swart said: “As a neuroscientist, I am interested in studying professions where individuals display great mental resilience, despite circumstances that would normally cause stress and high levels of cortisol.
“There have been many studies into the mental resilience of stressful occupations such as soldiers and traders, but none on journalists. I am really interested to see the similarities in journalists’ brains which makes them better suited to their profession.”
Doug Wills, chairman of the London Press Club and managing editor of the London Evening Standard said: “Journalism is a stressful job in an industry undergoing major change. Journalists play a hugely important role in society – keeping business and government accountable, at the same time as providing up-to-date, accurate news.
“It is important to understand how and what makes those journalists who thrive on pressure best able to cope with the strains and stresses of the job. This will undoubtedly help all journalists as well as the industry itself, which needs to look after their health and interests.”
The study will collate personalised information from journalists, including heart rate variability, cortisol and testosterone levels, brain profiles and food and drinking habits.