Factors Affecting "Fight or Flight" and "Tend or Befriend" Responses to Stress
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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.