Friday, 22 June 2012

Men are more social when stressed

According to a popular belief held for over 100 years, humans always exhibit the ‘fight or flight’ response to stress. This is a physiological, primitive, inborn reaction our bodies experience in order to prepare us to ‘fight’ or ‘flee’ from a perceived threat or danger. It has been common belief that when men experience stress they become aggressive. However, in line with our blogs on men’s health, it seems researchers at the University of Freiburg in Germany have discovered stress in men does not always lead to aggressive behaviour. 

It has always been assumed men demonstrate aggression under stress and since the late 1990s, scientists have suggested that women exhibit a protective and befriending reaction to stress, which they labelled the ‘tend-and-befriend’ response.

More recently, researchers revealed that positive social contact before a stressful situation reduced the stress response in men but they wanted to investigate whether stress could produce other behaviour in men than aggression alone.

Using a tool to measure stress in public speaking engagements and games to measure pro-social behaviour, such as sharing and trusting, they found that men were indeed more social in their response as a direct consequence of stress. These findings however, suggested than negative behaviour, such as punishment, was not affected by stress.

The results of this study, published in the journal Psychological Science, therefore refute the age-old belief about our reactions to stress and have significant consequences for our understanding of coping strategies and the social role of stress.

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Edinburgh: 0131-668-1440,
Glasgow: 0141-404-5411,
Aberdeen: 01224-452-848, opening soon! 
Borders: 01896-800-400,

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