Tend and befriend: Biobehavioral bases of affiliation under stress

  • Taylor S
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—In addition to fight-or-flight, humans dem-onstrate tending and befriending responses to stress— responses underpinned by the hormone oxytocin, by opi-oids, and by dopaminergic pathways. A working model of affiliation under stress suggests that oxytocin may be a biomarker of social distress that accompanies gaps or problems with social relationships and that may provide an impetus for affiliation. Oxytocin is implicated in the seeking of affiliative contact in response to stress, and, in conjunction with opioids, it also modulates stress re-sponses. Specifically, in conjunction with positive af-filiative contacts, oxytocin attenuates psychological and biological stress responses, but in conjunction with hostile and unsupportive contacts, oxytocin may exacerbate psy-chological and biological stress responses. Although sig-nificant paradoxes remain to be resolved, a mechanism that may underlie oxytocin's relation to the health benefits of social support may be in view.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Affiliation
  • Befriending
  • Opioids
  • Oxytocin
  • Tending

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  • Shelley E. Taylor

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