So while stress can spark a rampage, a kinder, gentler response to adversity is also in our nature. In the 1930s, physiologist Walter Cannon proposed that stress triggers two primordial reactions--lashing out or running away. Fueled by the observation that stress studies conducted in the past rarely involved females, Taylor's team wondered if women and men might respond to stress differently. My 80-year-old mom took on the challenging journey with meticulous dedication, instead of her habitual resistance. [25] Therefore, women respond to threats by tending and befriending, and female aggression is often indirect and covert in nature to avoid retaliation and physical injury. Among foraging societies without modern birth control methods, women have high parity, tending to give birth about every four years during their reproductive lifespan. Dreams have been described as dress rehearsals for real life, opportunities to gratify wishes, and a form of nocturnal therapy. [1] During threatening situations, group members can be a source of support and protection for women and their children. A biological basis for this regulation appears to be oxytocin. It refers to protection of offspring (tending) and seeking out their social group for mutual defense (befriending). Under conditions of threat, they tend to offspring to ensure their survival and affiliate with others for joint protection and comfort. Taylor’s research suggests that oxytocin and endogenous opioid peptides are implicated in affiliative responses to stress, especially in women. In 2000, Taylor and colleagues developed the tend and befriend model of responses to stress. This tend-and-befriend account of social responses to stress is the theoretical basis for our work. A world-renowned expert on stress and health, Taylor is the author of more than 200 scientific papers. In this model, ''tend'' refers to: A) becoming physiologically aroused. In addition to fight-or-flight, humans demonstrate tending and befriending responses to stress—responses underpinned by the hormone oxytocin, by opioids, and … Lower variance in reproductive success and higher costs of physical aggression may explain the lower rates of physical aggression among human females compared to males. Tend and Befriend The tend and befriend instinct contrasts with the fight or flight instinct, and was originally outlined by psychologist Shelley Taylor. Under conditions of threat, they tend to offspring to ensure their survival and affiliate with others for joint protection and comfort. (Eds.) Even in modern Western societies, parents often rely on family members, friends, and babysitters to help care for children. Among chimpanzees, this may consist of kissing and friendly grinning; among women, talking on the telephone or "doing lunch." Friends increase women's perceived capabilities for inflicting reputational harm on a rival as well as perceptions of defensive capabilities against indirect aggression. Group living and affiliation with multiple unrelated others of the same sex (who do not share genetic interests) also presents the problem of competing for access to limited resources, such as social status, food, and mates. The human stress response has been characterized, both physiologically and behaviorally, as "fight-or-flight." [15] However, a review of female aggression noted that "The fact that OT [oxytocin] enhances, rather than diminishes, attention to potential threat in the environment casts doubt on the popular ‘tend-and-befriend’ hypothesis which is based on the presumed anxiolytic effect of OT". [17] "Befriending" may lead to substantial mental and physical health benefits in times of stress. [11] Non-mother female wolves and wild dogs sometimes begin lactating to nurse the alpha female's pups. [8] Oxytocin, released in response to stressors, may be the mechanism underlying the female caregiving response. Indeed, in The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier & Better Off Financially (Doubleday, 2000), Linda J. 107, No. B) seeking social support. However, the benefits of affiliation would have outweighed the costs in order for tend-and-befriend to have evolved. The “tend and befriend” theory builds on the observation that human beings affiliate in response to stress. [10] Cooperative breeders include wolves, elephants, many nonhuman primates, and humans. B) seeking social support. These social responses to threat reduce biological stress responses, including lowering heart rate, blood pressure, and hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis (HPA) stress activity, such as cortisol responses. [1][14], Human and animal studies (reviewed in Taylor et al., 2000) suggest that oxytocin is the neuroendocrine mechanism underlying the female "befriend" stress response. There are several theories regarding gossip, including social bonding and group cohesion. (2005). 219.The In Focus box on gender differences in responding to stress presents Shelley Taylor's proposal that women ''tend-and-befriend'' in response to stress. Research shows that women are more likely to seek the company of others in times of stress, compared to men. [21] Although the befriending stress response may be especially activated for women under conditions of resource scarcity,[1] resource scarcity also entails more intense competition for these resources. 219. Taylor, a professor at UCLA who, along with her colleagues, developed the “tend and befriend” theory of stress response, challenges the … [26] Gossip is one such tactic, functioning to spread information that would damage the reputation of a competitor. Shelley Elizabeth Taylor (born 1946) is a distinguished professor of psychology at the Susan Fiske and Shelley Taylor. Psychology Today © 2021 Sussex Publishers, LLC, Two Words Stop Toxic Habits and Addiction in Their Tracks, How Baby Boomers Maintain Their Sex Lives, What Goes on Beneath the Surface When Narcissists Get Angry, Four Ways to Improve Your Time Management, Why Some People Don’t Seek Mental Health Services, Analysis Paralysis vs. Through her work at the University of California, Los Angeles, Taylor proposed a new model for female reactions to stress – the “tend and befriend” model. Consistent with this result, rates of violence and crime are higher among males and females under conditions of resource scarcity. This model contrasts with the "fight-or-flight response" which states that in the face of a harmful stressor, we either face it or run from it. [25] Females are in general more likely to produce offspring in their lifetimes than males. Tend-and-befriend is a behavior exhibited by some animals, including humans, in response to threat. By Nancy K. Dess published September 1, 2000 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016, On June 21, 2000, in San Leandro, California, a frighteningly familiar scene unfolded: Stuart Alexander, a sausage factory owner, suddenly opened fire on four government meat inspectors, killing three. [25] In contrast, resource competition did not increase direct aggression in either men or women when they were asked to imagine themselves married and with a young child[citation needed]. But when researcher Shelley Taylor, ... PhD, suspect that the tend and befriend behavior in women, particularly as it pertains to social connections, may explain why women outlive men. This theory is based in evolutionary psychology, a field which has generated significant criticism for its promotion of gender determinism.[27][28]. Tend-and-befriend is a behavior exhibited by some animals, including humans, in response to threat. So while this work doesn't fully explain gender differences in reactions to stress, it does pave the way for exciting new avenues of interdisciplinary research on how stress affects our lives. The costs of physical injury to a parent would also entail costs to his or her family. However, consistent with informational warfare theory, the content of gossip is relevant to the context in which competition is occurring. Group living provides numerous benefits, including protection from predators and cooperation to achieve shared goals and access to resources. Humans are born helpless and altricial, mature slowly, and depend on parental investment well into their young adult lives, and often even later. Although females in general are less physically aggressive, they tend to engage in as much or even more indirect aggression (e.g. Taylor et al. [12] Women and adolescent girls report more sources of social support and are more likely to turn to same-sex peers for support than men or boys are. But fight or flight is only part of a bigger picture, according to Shelley Taylor, Ph.D., a psychology professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and her colleagues. Among all primates and most mammals, endocrinological and neural processes lead females to nurture infants, including unrelated infants, after being exposed long enough to infant signals. [1] In the presence of threats, protecting and calming offspring while blending into the environment may have increased chances of survival for mother and child. Instead, tend and Befriend evolves from an evolutionary perspective and asserts that "people, especially women, evolved social means for dealing … Women have higher life expectancies from birth in most countries where there is equal access to medical care. Both oxytocin and endorphins may also contribute to the second piece of the puzzle--females' tendency to "befriend." [7] In contrast, fathers who experienced stressful workdays were more likely to withdraw from their families or were more interpersonally conflictual that evening at home. [11] Allomothers are usually a child's aunts, uncles, fathers, grandmothers, siblings, and other women in the community. UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) is the largest UC campus in terms of enrollment, and one of the few public research universities located in a major city. [5], Women are more likely to respond to stress through tending and befriending than men. A world-renowned expert on stress and health, her work on the “tend and befriend” theory is considered to be one of the biggest breakthroughs in understanding stress since the 1930s. Evolutionary thinking about gender differences may seem to imply that behavior is a simple matter of genes, or it may even justify stereotyping of the two sexes, but according to Taylor and her colleagues, life is much more interesting than that; our biological heritage is not destiny but rather a force that "influences and interacts with social, cultural, cognitive and emotional factors." Allomothers (helpers who are not a child's mother) protect, provision, carry, and care for children. [3] Oxytocin is released in humans in response to a broad array of stressors, especially those that may trigger affiliative needs. In many mammals, and cross-culturally in humans, females form especially close, stable attachments with other females, often kin. D) taking cover and protecting offspring. This is the idea that evolutionary bias may force us into unwise decisions. The tend-and-befriend theoretical model was originally developed by Dr. Shelley E. Taylor and her research team at the University of California, Los Angeles and first described in a Psychological Review article published in the year 2000. "The evolutionary psychology of women's aggression", "Stress, social support, and the buffering hypothesis", "Informational warfare: Coalitional gossiping as a strategy for within-group aggression",, Wikipedia articles needing page number citations from November 2013, Articles with unsourced statements from March 2020, Articles needing POV-check from March 2017, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. [11] Humans have spent most of human evolution as hunter-gatherer foragers.

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