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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Thurs. Psychological Trivia Answer: T or F Fight or Flight Is the Natural Instinctive Response to Stress?

Thought for the Day: It is Thursday & time for the answer to Tuesday's Psychological Trivia Question. The question was:
          True or False: The natural instinctive response to stress is either fight or flight.
The answer is actually true & false. This psychological trivia may have significant bearing on the importance of having women as well as men with strong tend or befriend tendencies in politics to weigh in on difficult issues like gun control & drunk driving. Read on to see why.

        Until about 13 years ago, psychologists believed that fight or flight were the only instinctive natural responses to stress & serious danger. In the Psychology Review in 2000, Shelley Taylor, Ph.D., a psychology professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, & her colleagues discovered that the fight or flight response under stress was true for men, but not necessarily for women. The research until then was based on putting males under extreme stress in dangerous situations. Until that time, no one bothered to look at how females respond to stress.
           Dr. Taylor began studying women & found that there were other options, namely, tend & befriend. Starting with the strong maternal urge to protect their children, women will tend to or protect their offspring even when it may lead to risking their own lives. They also may try to deescalate situations by befriending others to try to reduce the conflict. Since then, studies have found the fight or flight versus tend or befriend response may be due to physiological differences between men & women. 
         Dr Joohyung Lee, from the Prince Henry's Institute in Melbourne found that, "the aggressive fight-or-flight reaction is more dominant in men, while women predominantly adopt a less aggressive tend-and-befriend response." Dr. Lee & his colleagues attribute this to a genetic underpinning of the male Y-chromosome gene, called SRY. Lee & his colleague Professor Harley found that, "SRY may prime organs in the male body to respond to stress through increased release of catecholamine and blood flow to organs, as well as promoting aggression and increased movement which drive fight-or-flight in males. In females oestrogen and the activation of internal opiates, which the body uses to control pain, may prevent aggressive responses."
           I tend to question if this is all nature or may be related to nurturing as well, since men also will performs acts of heroism to save their children or friends when they are threatened even when they are endangering their lives. What do you think? How do you react under extreme stress, fight, flight, tend or befriend?
           This psychological trivia may have bearing on the importance women as well as men with strong tend or befriend tendencies taking an active role in politics. Since women are more likely to tend, mend & befriend they may be more equipped to find & negotiate ways to resolve stressful issues like gun control. Later today I will be sharing more of my experiences from DC with Moms Demand Change so check back to hear more about how women are making a difference following Newtown.

Tend & Befriend Women tend to nurture and men to withdraw when life gets hard, by Nancy K. Dess, published on September 01, 2000 - last reviewed on August 12, 2009 from Psychology Today,  Men Respond To Stress With ‘Fight Or Flight' While Women ‘Tend And Befriend,' Say Scientists first posted on the Huffington Post on 3/14/2012, updated 3/14/2012 by , Men Respond More Aggressively Than Women to Stress and It's All Down to a Single Gene from Science Daily, March 7, 2012.

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