Scientists have hammered the "fight or flight" stress response into our collective consciousness for decades. Turns out that they might just have overlooked another response, "friend":
When we're under immediate stress—say, we are about to give a speech or about to be mugged—we either fight or flee, or so scientists have long preached. But some psychologists are now suggesting that this scenario may apply mainly to males. Men get antisocial under pressure, but women tend to react in the opposite way: they "tend and befriend," engaging in nurturing and social networking, perhaps as a way to protect their offspring, according to a theory proffered by neuroscientist Shelley Taylor of the University of California, Los Angeles. Here at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society 2010 annual meeting, psychologist Mara Mather of the University of Southern California presented powerful new support for Taylor's hypothesis in the divergent ways that stressed men and women respond to faces.