Men make snap decisions under stress: Study

Men make snap decisions under stress: Study

Researchers at the University Of Southern California found that men respond differently to risky situations when under stress, while women tend to take their time before taking a decision.

They found that when the pressure is on, men charge ahead and make snap decisions for small rewards, while women are likely to take their time.

It's also found that the sexes have different brain activation patterns during the decision-making process, the Daily Mail reported.

Lead researcher Nichole Lighthall said: "Being more cautious and taking the time to make a decision will often be the right choice."

"It might be better to have more gender diversity on important decision because men and women offer differing perspectives," she said.

For the study, published in the Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, the researchers gave volunteers a task of filling up a computer-simulated balloon with as much air as possible without popping the balloon.

Subjects earned from USD 4 to USD 45 based on their performance, with the men earning much more cash under stress.

Lighthall said that although men performed this task better, the more important conclusion may be that important decisions made under stress should include input from both genders.

After being subjected to stress, men appeared to be more motivated to act quickly while women would slow down.

For men under stress, playing a risk-taking game stimulated areas in the brain that are activated when one gets a reward or satisfies an addiction.

The same experiment found diminished brain activity for women in the same areas when they were stressed.

Lighthall said: "It appears women do not feel the drive to get a reward as much under stress."

Both stress responses have their benefits, Lighthall said, especially in areas with the need to weigh short-term gain and long-term benefits, such as the stock market, health decisions or retirement planning.

But she found that when stress was absent, the behaviour and brain activation of both sexes was much more similar.

Men and women faced with tough decisions might improve their communication by waiting until a stressful situation has passed, Lighthall said.

In her earlier study, Lighthall had found that men under stress may be more likely to take risks, correlating to such real-life behaviour as gambling, smoking, unsafe sex and illegal drug use.

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