The Female Alternative to ‘Fight or Flight’

‘Women have a larger behavioral repertoire than just fight or
flight,’ writes Gale Berkowitz. ‘When the hormone oxytocin is
released as part of the stress responses in a woman, it buffers the
fight or flight response and encourages her to tend children and
gather with other women instead.’ A landmark UCLA study found that
the chemicals in a woman’s brain, combined with hormone levels
unique to her gender, causes her to make and maintain friendships
with other women. Drs. Laura Cousin Klein and Shelley Taylor, two
of the study’s authors, put two and two together when they noticed
that women at the lab reacted to stress by cleaning the lab, having
coffee and bonding, while their male colleagues ‘holed up somewhere
on their own.’ That, coupled with the fact that 90 percent of prior
stress research had been done on men, caused the doctors to realize
they were onto something. Berkowitz speculates that women’s stress
response could explain why they live longer than men.
Anne Geske

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