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Biobehavioral Responses to Stress in Females



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Psychological Review 2000 Vol 107 No 3 411 429 Copyright 2000 by the American Psychological Association Inc 0033 295X 0 00 DOI 10 1037 0033 295X 107 3 411 Biobehavioral Responses to Stress in Females Tend and Befriend Not Fight or Flight Shelley E Taylor Laura Cousino Klein Brian P Lewis Tara L Gruenewald Regan A R Gurung and John A Updegraff University of California Los Angeles The human stress response has been characterized both physiologically and behaviorally as fight orflight Although fight or flight may characterize the primary physiological responses to stress for both males and females we propose that behaviorally females responses are more marked by a pattern of tend and befriend Tending involves nurturant activities designed to protect the self and offspring that promote safety and reduce distress befriending is the creation and maintenance of social networks that may aid in this process The biobehavioral mechanism that underlies the tend and befriend pattern appears to draw on the attachment caregiving system and neuroendocrine evidence from animal and human studies suggests that oxytocin in conjunction with female reproductive hormones and endogenous opioid peptide mechanisms may be at its core This previously unexplored stress regulatory system has manifold implications for the study of stress Survival depends on the ability to mount a successful response affiliating with social groups to reduce risk We hypothesize and to threat The human stress response has been characterized as consider evidence from humans and other species to suggest that fight or flight Cannon 1932 and has been represented as an females create maintain and utilize these social groups especially essential mechanism in the survival process We propose that relations with other females to manage stressful conditions We human female responses to stress as well as those of some animal suggest that female responses to stress may build on attachment species are not well characterized by



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