external image 2000-07-stress_tcm7-25302.jpgBook Definition: Stress response model saying that females are biologically predisposed to respond to threat by nurturing and protecting offspring and seeking social support and attention.

Also called the bonding response.

In Your Own Words

  • A type of response that focuses on preservation of others rather than self. Typical of females because of their predisposition to care taking.
  • An instinct in women to protect and nurture (the "tend" part), and to bond (the "befriend" part) in times of threat.
  • Note the differences between fight-or-flight in which the male fights simply to save his life or flees, not caring about the offspring.
  • An evolutionary explanation for the responses in women to stress; because women are generally the caretakers, the fight-or-flight response would not be advantageous to the mother or the offspring (fighting could hurt the mother or children, fleeing would leave the children defenseless).


  • A woman going back in a burning building to save her children.
  • In the wild, a lion mother fights their predator to protect their cubs life.
  • A mother sees her child upset so she comforts and cares for the child.
  • Bambi's mother protects Bambi from dying and fights the hunters.
  • A mother helping her daughter with a stressful project.
  • A mother taking their daughter shopping when her daughter is stressed.
  • A mother sees her child is struggling to swim, so she jumps into the water to save him, even with her clothes on!
  • In the horror movie Mama, when the "mama" (ghost) will literally do anything to have her children be with her, and away from the new owners of the house.

Additional Resources

  1. http://www.tamiltwist.com/2011/09/mothers-sacrifice-during-japan.html
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tend_and_befriend
  3. http://psycnet.apa.org/index.cfm?fa=search.displayRecord&uid=2000-08671-001
  4. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1751-9861.2005.tb00013.x/abstract
  5. http://cdp.sagepub.com/content/15/6/273.short


  • There was an interesting experiment based on the concept of the tend-and-befriend model where 50 volunteers (24 men and 26 women) were tested to see how they reacted to certain stress conditions. Each person was randomly assigned an activity which was based on either achievement or rejection stress conditions. The achievement stressor contained a mathematical and verbal challenge while the rejection stressor contained two social interaction challenges. The hypothesis for the experiment was that men would become more stressed during the achievement stressors while women would become more stressed during the social rejection stressors. This hypothesis was correct; the results showed that men had a significantly larger cortisol response than the women did. The women had more of a response to the social rejection stressors than the men did. As is shown from this experiment, women react to stressful situations with the tend-and-befriend model (reacting to the social rejection stressors at a much higher rate than the men) while men seem to react more with the flight-or-fight response (reacting to the achievement stressors at a much higher rate than the women).
  • During a different experiment, the hormones of the women who had tend-and-befriend tendencies were tested. Many of the women tested positive for the hormone oxytocin. This hormone regulates how we respond to stressful situations. this experiment also discovered the health benefits of social relationships with respect to oxytocin levels.