Study Concludes Men and Women Have Same Biological Reaction to Same Stresses


CHICAGO–(ENEWSPF)–March 15, 2016.  It turns out men and women may not be all that different when it comes to the kinds of things they’re stressed about, a new study by a Roosevelt University PsyD student shows.

Like many of us, Sarah Fredrickson (above), a doctoral psychology student at Roosevelt University in Chicago, had seen and heard about the stereotypical characterizations of women fretting over relationships and of men worrying about careers and money.

In a study comparing men’s and women’s levels of cortisol secretion in saliva, an indicator of chronic stress, Fredrickson, along with Kimberly Dienes, an associate professor of psychology at Roosevelt, found that men and women have similar biological stress patterns to the same types of stressors.

In the study, participants’ cortisol levels were measured during a ‘social stress test’ performed under experimental conditions. Participants were also asked about the types of stressful life events they had experienced in the year prior to the test.

According to study findings, stress levels were lowest among both men and women following chronic environmental stressors like neighborhood safety and health stressors including illness, and were highest following chronic interpersonal stressors like breakups and fights with friends and partners. Both types of reactions have been linked to a variety of negative health outcomes including depression, PTSD and breast cancer.

“We were surprised to discover that, biologically, men and women were similarly affected by the same types of chronic stressors, including interpersonal stress,” said Fredrickson.

The study is part of Roosevelt University’s “The Biopsychosocial Model of Stress Sensitivity and Risk for Depression” project that began in 2011 under Dienes’ leadership.
“Too often, we try to draw divides between men and women. Biologically speaking, this study shows that men and women have the same kinds of sensitivities to stress,” said Dienes.

The study was presented this month at the American Psychosomatic Society’s Annual Meeting.