Arguing Makes Women Feel Better and Men Feel Worse, Says Scienceby Yelena Shuster on October 26, 2012
About 140 couples expecting their first baby answered questions about their relationship. Saliva samples were measured before, during, and after the interview to determine the prevalence of the stress hormone cortisol.
As you could expect, “hostility” elevated the men’s stress levels. Surprisingly, though, hostility had the opposite effect on women, who experienced stress when there was little arguing:
“For generally anxious men, more expressed hostility was also linked to more persistence of this elevated stress,” Penn State researcher Mark Feinberg said in a statement. “On the other hand, generally anxious women experienced relatively more prolonged stress when there were lower levels of negativity and hostility expressed during the discussion.”
That might sound counterintuitive, but Feinberg said anxious women, and women in relationships filled with chronic arguing, might find the airing of differences as a reassurance that the couple is engaged with each other.
Of course, keep in mind that this study was only done with expecting couples — and women’s cortisol levels are already high during pregnancy. But the next time your partner really wants to talk about it and you really don’t (or vice versa), try bonding over your common enemy: science.
Yelena Shuster never met a fight she didn’t like.