Matthews

Topics: Fight-or-flight response, Gender, Male Pages: 32 (7205 words) Published: April 27, 2015


FACTORS AFFECTING “FIGHT OR FLIGHT” AND
“TEND & BEFRIEND” RESPONSES TO STRESS.

Jackie Matthews
Thesis
Bachelor of Arts
Women Studies
University of Washington
June 2005

Advisor: Marie-Annette Brown, Professor
Family and Child Nursing

Table of Contents

Introduction............................... p. 3
Literature Review...................... p. 4
Summary……………………… p. 9
Methods.................................... p. 11
Data Generating Instruments…. p. 11
Data Analysis...……………….. p. 12
Discussion.................................. p. 16
Limitations................................. p. 17
Conclusions............................... p. 17
References................................. p. 19
Appendices................................ p. 22
A. Initial Checklist
B. Recruitment Email
C. Departments Targeted for Gender Representation
D. Catalyst Online Survey

Introduction

For decades research with animals and humans has suggested that the “fight or flight” response is essential to dealing with stress. New research posits that gender issues may influence the stress response. Recently Taylor (2000) described the “tend and befriend” response to stress that may be more typical of females than males. She offers the following conceptualizations that are central to her theory. “Fight or flight” occurs when confronted by stress, individuals either react with aggressive behavior, such as verbal conflict and more drastic actions (the “fight” response), or withdraw from the stressful situation (the “flight” response). “Tend and befriend” occurs when in response to stressful conditions by protecting and nurturing themselves and their “young” (the "tend" response), and by seeking social contact and support from others (the "befriend" response). This is a descriptive study to contribute knowledge about stress responses. My project’s focus is:

1) To develop an instrument to measure stress responses based on Taylor’s theoretical framework of stress responses. 2) To describe respondents perceptions of stress responses that they consider “fight or flight” or “tend and befriend”. 3) To describe the most commonly used stress responses.

4) To explore possible relationships between gender and type of stress responses.

Literature Review
For decades research with animals and humans has suggested that the “fight or flight” response is essential to dealing with stress (Taylor, 2000). In The Tending Instinct, Taylor (2002) posits that gender issues may influence the stress response, “Indeed, the fight-or-flight response to stress may be a more viable response to stress for males than for females. Male hormones, especially testosterone, appear to fuel the fight response, and a lot of evidence, ranging from boys fighting on the playground to violent crime statistics, suggests that physical aggression in response to stress is much more often the province of males than females” (Taylor, 2002, 22).

Current research shows women respond to stress in a different manner marked by a pattern of “tend and befriend” (Taylor, 2000). This response is largely encouraged by oxytocin, which is supported by estrogen and antagonized or minimized by testosterone. (Geary & Flinn, 2002, Taylor, 2000). Oxytocin’s role in the “tend and befriend” response is becoming better understood. Uvnas-Moberg, 1998, 819-832, also asserts that oxytocin plays a significant role in antistress and calming reactions. Taylor explains, “When we developed our theory of “tend and befriend”, we reasoned that there must be a biological basis for the fact that females calm down enough to avoid fighting or fleeing, tending to their offspring instead. With oxytocin, we identified one potential candidate. Not only does oxytocin reliably produce a state of calm, it is also a social hormone” (Taylor, 2002, Tending, 25-26).

Taylor, (2000, 2002), posits that females in the animal kingdom “avoid” the “fight or...

References: 1. Affirmative Action Information: http://www.washington.edu/admin/eoo/Index_AA_Reports.html. Academic Personnel, 2003. Professional Staff, 2003.
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3. Geary, D.C. & Flinn, M. V. (2002). Sex differences in behavioral and hormonal response to social threat: Commentary on Taylor et al. (2000). Psychological Review, 109, 745-750.
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5. Hochschild, A. (1989). The Second Shift: working parents and the revolution at home. New York: Viking Penguin.
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7. McCay, V. & Miller, K. (2001). Interpreting in Mental Health Settings: Issues & Concerns. American Annals of the Deaf, 146 (5), pp. 429-435.
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11. Sarason, IG, Johnson, JH, Siegel, JM. (1978). Assessing the Impact of Life Changes: Development of the Life Experiences Survey. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Vol. 46, No. 5, pp.932-946.
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13. Taylor, S.E., Klein, L. C., Lewis, B. P., Gruenwald, T. L., Gurung, R. A. R., & Updegraff, J. A. (2002). Sex Differences in Biobehavioral Responses to Threat: Reply to Geary and Flinn (2002). Psychological Review, 109 (4), pp. 751-753.
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