Taylor, S. E., Klein, L. C., Lewis, B. P., Gruenewald, T. L., Gurung, R. A. R., & Updegraff, J. A. (2000). Biobehavioral responses to stress in females: Tend-and-befriend, not fight-or-flight. Psychological review, 107(3), 411-429.

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Due to the fact that research on the "fight or flight" response to stress has relied primarily on male participants, Taylor et al. (2000) suggest that women may not respond to stress in the same manner. They propose that women have a "tend and befriend" response to stress.

Tending describes a woman providing care for her offspring and blending in with her environment during stress. Befriending describes a woman seeking support for herself and her offspring from her social group during stress. The authors suggest that the tend and befriend response provides an evolutionary advantage to women because women historically have higher parental investment in their offspring relative to men.

Previous research on the hormone oxytocin may provide an explanation for the tend and befriend response. First, both men and women show higher affiliative (i.e., befriending) behavior when induced with oxytocin. Also, women show higher oxytocin levels than men during a stressful situation, and oxytocin levels are high in women who breastfeed. Given these findings, the authors suggest that oxytocin at least partially explains women's tend and befriend response to stress.

The Taylor et al. (2000) article is considered a classic psychological article because it underscores why it is important to recognize gender bias in well-known research.



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