This study examined sex differences in salivary cortisol responses to experimental stressors and subsequent desire to affiliate in the context of mortality cues following the Tend-and-Befriend model. Participants were randomly assigned to a mortality salience prime or a control condition. They were then assigned to view a video of crying infants or a video designed to elicit out-group threat. As predicted, females showed more cortisol reactivity to the video of crying infants and males showed more cortisol reactivity to the video of hate speech in the no prime condition. Males receiving a mortality salience prime, surprisingly, showed a weaker cortisol response to the out-group threat video compared to males who received no prime. Results provide further support of using the Tend-and-Befriend model to predict differences in stress response system activity between men and women, as well as modifications to that theory that incorporate male responses to out-group threats.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Behavioral Neuroscience