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Battle Of The Stresses: A Common Cause Of Arguments Between Sexes

A study shows that men and women may have much different responses to stressful situations.

gender_miscommunication

Photo: Josh Fassbind (flickr)

As levels of stress increased, males and females continued to show increasingly distinct reactions to the angry faces.

Studies show that there may be a distinct difference in how men and women respond to a key component of social interaction: facial expression.

Men Vs. Women

Men and women in this study, conducted by researchers at the University of Southern California Davis School of Gerontology, were shown a series of pictures showing angry faces.

Womens’ response to an angry or mean expression demonstrated an increase in brain activity. Female brains work much harder to interpret and understand these facial expressions.

Men, on the other hand, show almost an opposite reaction! When men look at angry faces, activity in the part of the brain responsible for understanding others’ feelings actually decreases. This suggests that the silent, indifferent attitude of men during a fight is not just a facade.

Still Not Convinced?

To make sure this wasn’t just a fluke, scientists manipulated the subjects stress levels, using cortisol, the stress hormone. As levels of stress increased, males and females continued to show increasingly distinct reactions to the angry faces.

Scientists were careful to find subjects that were not influenced by other stress/hormone related factors (smoking, intense exercise, caffeine, hormone pills, etc.)

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Molly Plunkett

is a journalism student at Indiana University and an online producer for A Moment of Science. She is originally from Wheaton, IL.

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