After fifty years of stress research, almost exclusively on men, the standard doctrine has been that when under pressure, humans snap to fight or flight reactions. We hide away or we get angry, is the idea. Recently it occurred to stress researchers at UCLA that perhaps there’s a reason why women all do that cake-baking house-cleaning thing when deadlines loom near. They actually looked at women, instead of using a sample with 90% men, and found that yes, the rise in oxytocin in women under pressure leads us to tend and befriend. Looking after our children, spending time with our girlfriends and cleaning our houses actually refreshes us, they reckon, making us more able to deal with whatever pressures had made us feel stressed.
I’m going to stop feeling guilty when I have that amazing urge to chat for an hour and tidy my office just before a deadline. (via Danah)