Tend and Befriend

Someone sent me an article on a model of female response to stress that was developed in recent years by Shelley Taylor, a social psychologist at UCLA.  Since I was unaware of this model and found it interesting, I thought I would share.  Here is how the article begins:



Move over “fight-or-flight”–there’s a new paradigm in town, the first new model to describe people’s stress response patterns in more than 60 years.

The model, called “tend-and-befriend” by its developers, won’t replace fight-or-flight. Rather, it adds another dimension to the stress-response arsenal, says University of California, Los Angeles, psychologist Shelley Taylor, PhD, who, along with five colleagues, developed the model.


In particular, they propose that females respond to stressful situations by protecting themselves and their young through nurturing behaviors–the “tend” part of the model–and forming alliances with a larger social group, particularly among women–the “befriend” part of the model. Males, in contrast, show less of a tendency toward tending and befriending, sticking more to the fight-or-flight response, they suggest.

One Comment

  1. I wonder if the aforementioned model of tender and befriend characteristic in the female´s response to stress contrasting to the fight and flight response of males (due to the lack of androgens in the female according to neuroendocrine evidence, Taylor et al. 2002 p.664)could be a suitable and good operationalisation of the notion of “Responsibility” as it is understood in moral philosophy and the free will debate, it becoming a promising path to unrevail what is to be responsible.

    Moreover, if studies have shown dimorphic patterns in biobehavioural responses to stress, the care for offspring and more affiliative behavours in hard times (all instances of what can be subsumed into the notion of responsibility), why not to see within the experimental philosophy movement the possibility of specific gender differences in responsibility and thereby the requirements conditions to be met for folk responsibility depending if one is a female or a male.

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