A study has shown that men become more aggressive, withdrawn and unable to empathise when under stress, whereas women show the opposite behaviour and are naturally inclined to better stress management.
The researchers from the Social Cognitive Neuroscience Unit of the University of Vienna and the University of Freiburg aimed to prove or disprove whether individuals are more egocentric when stressed, anxious or depressed.
They theorised that taking a selfish perspective reduces the emotional and cognitive load that people are under. They were surprised however, to find that only men became selfish and self centred when subjected to stress.
Unlike men, women, when stressed, naturally apply social strategies, such as talking to friends and seeking support, to help them cope with their stress. Men on the other hand tend to internalise their issues and become more self-centred in order to work through their stress.
The inability of men to reach out and seek aid is a major issue in the mental health world, something that often is not addressed publicly. According to a recent BBC report, men are three times more likely to commit suicide than women.
The reasons for the different behavioural patterns in genders when stressed are unknown, although it may have something to do with the oxytocin system, as a previous study has suggested. Women tend to have higher oxytocin levels when stressed, which helps them to deal with stress more effectively than men.