Here, finally, is a study that proves what many of us be-plighted single ladies (and ladies who are no longer single) have known for years. When men are stressed — a/k/a, you’re yelling at them for some perceived slight, or maybe they really are just plain old stressed — their brains actually shut down. With diminished brain activity to prove it.
The study, conducted by Mara Mather at USC, went like this: Men and women were given pictures of angry faces to look at, stimulating brain activity used to understand and interpret facial expressions. But men “under acute stress” actually showed decreased brain activity, including in areas of the brain that help you understand what emotions faces are conveying. Women under stress had the opposite reaction, with even more activity in the brain. Overachievers.
And there we have it, scientifically:
“Under stress, men tend to withdraw socially while women seek emotional support.”
Unfortunately, men never seem to warn women that this is about to happen — would it be too much to give a little heads-up? — which is probably related to 90 percent of relationship troubles between men and women. That and not putting the toilet seat down.
Studies have not been done on how much men shutting down pushes women to simply stress them out further, but we suggest someone get on that, stat.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 29, 2010