A new study published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology suggests that women tend become empathetic and more open to others when in stress compared to men who become more selfish and self centered.
The study was conducted by researchers at International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) of Trieste, University of Freiburg and University of Vienna who recruited around 40 men and 40 women and made them to go through a stress test.
There were also made to go through a number of tests to measure their ability to differentiate between their feelings and what other people wanted. The researchers found that women who underwent stress tests before handling the task performed better compared to a control group of women while men performed badly compared to those who were not stressed.
"What we observed was that stress worsens the performance of men in all three types of tasks. The opposite is true for women. There's a subtle boundary between the ability to identify with others and take on their perspective -- and therefore be empathic -- and the inability to distinguish between self and other, thus acting egocentrically. To be truly empathic and behave pro-socially it's important to maintain the ability to distinguish between self and other, and stress appears to play an important role in this", lead researcher Giorgia Silani said.