Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Women, stress and bonding

A UCLA study has apparently proven that women have a different reaction to stress than men. The now familiar "fight or flight" response to stress does not tell the entire story where women are concerned.

Women, it seems, have a "tend and befriend" response to stress. Oxytocin, the hormone released when women breastfeed, is also released during times of stress, and overrides the "fight or flight" response to encourage women to care for their children and bond with other women. Testosterone, which is increased during times of stress in men, heightens the "fight or flight" response.

Two women scientists from the UCLA lab realized that this was true, even among their own co-workers.
When the women who worked in the lab were stressed, they came in, cleaned the lab, had coffee, and bonded, says Dr. Klein. When the men were stressed, they holed up somewhere on their own.
This need for bonding in response to stress translates into a life-or-death need for women friends. The study showed that the more friends a woman had, the healthier she was over the long term--even after such stressful events as the death of a spouse.

Hat tip to MK.


Anonymous said...

Great post! I will say, however, when I am stressed I rarely "clean the lab", but I do bond with my friends. Thank you for being there.

Staying in Balance said...

You're welcome! Yeah, I thought the same thing--if only my stress response was cleaning! :)

Charley said...

I'll remain skeptical :) Do you know if they've rep,licated the study?

Staying in Balance said...

No, I don't, actually, Charley. I do think there are differences inherent in men and women, though, and this very well may be one of them.

Anonymous said...

I think this makes sense.

Staying in Balance said...

It made sense to me too, Angela.

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"Slavery ended in medieval Europe only because the church extended its sacraments to all slaves and then managed to impose a ban on the enslavement of Christians (and of Jews). Within the context of medieval Europe, that prohibition was effectively a rule of universal abolition. "— Rodney Stark

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