New research challenges gender differences in response to stress

According to new research conducted by University of Freiburg in Germany, when are confronted with stressful situations they become more sociable and show ‘tend and befriend’ in the same way women do. Additionally, having positive social behaviour before a stressful situation may actually limit or change the affect stress has on the body.

The research was examining how men behave in social situations when under stress. Previously it has been found that when men are under stress they respond with aggression, irritability and isolation as a result of the fight or flight response. Conversely when women are in stressful situations, they tend to seek comfort from other women and partake in more caring or ‘tending’ behaviors.

This latest research has found that contrary to previous research, in some cases, men will seek out friendship and club together with other individuals to dampen the impact of stressors.

The study was conducted using social interaction games that allowed the researchers to examine how social behaviours such as trust, sharing and punishment are altered by stress.

It was reported in the international journal Psychological Science that, men who were stressed showed significantly more positive social behaviours than those who were not stressed. It was also reported that negative social behaviours were not altered by stress levels.

This latest research in conjunction with prior research conducted by psychologist and neuroscientist Professor Markus Heinrichs and Dr. Bernadette von Dawans and their teams has been reported to shed light on how both men and women have their stress responses directly impacted by their current social situation or their social activity after stress inducing events.