Stress and from Physical Conflicts based on Sex, Masculinity, and Color Perception

by Melissa Huntley
Faculty advisor: Dr. Wind Goodfriend

As women become aggressive, conflicts occurring between the sexes increase. Research suggests differences in reactions of men and women under stress (Holt-Lunstad, Clayton, & Uchino, 2001), and it is important to identify if these reactions follow similar patterns when faced with physical altercations. Participants started with a survey that measures gender orientation (Bem, 1974), role conflict (Chusmir & Koberg, 1986; Gillespie & Eisler, 1992), and attitudes toward women (Yoder et al., 2004). They then engaged in a fighting simulation with trained opponents (in the style of a martial arts tournament, wearing protective gear). The sex of the opponents was randomly assigned and blood pressure identified how much stress was experienced. It is expected that men will experience less stress than women because the social role of men is that they are expected to have physical conflicts. Women who conflict with a male are expected to have the most stress (i.e., an interaction) because of traditional sex roles. Physical conflict is a common occurrence, whether between men, women, or between opposite sexes. Identifying stress reactions when faced with an altercation will give researchers the opportunity to study more about repercussions of conflicts and may shed light on traditional sex roles.