College of Social Sciences and Public Affairs Poster Presentations


Gender Differences in Physiological Responses in Stressful Situations

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Rose Barlow


Gender differences in stressful situations are important in determining individual’s vulnerability to psychological stress and their ability to cope under such circumstances. Previous research has established differences in men’s and women’s physiological responses to stressful situations based on their levels of anxiety and ability to cope (Dolan, Sherwood, & Light, 1992; Stoyanova & Hope, 2012). According to Stoyanova and Hope (2012), women are more susceptible than men to experience heightened levels of anxiety and women are at a greater risk for developing anxiety disorders than men. The goal of the proposed study is to examine the difference of physiological response between men and women in a stressful situation. This study will focus on gender differences of anxiety levels of men and women based on their response to exposure to a stressful situation (i.e. math problems). We anticipate that women will report increased self-report levels of stress compared to men. In addition, we anticipate a difference between physiological responses and self-report stress levels, with an increase in physiological responses of men as the rounds of math problems increase in difficulty, whereas women will remain consistent throughout the ten rounds. Furthermore, we examine the self-report levels of stress based on the subjective units of distress scales (SUDS) in relationship to the participants physiological response. Findings from this study may provide direction for future research in cognitive coping strategies such as positive self-talk to help men and women overcome gender stigmas and reduce daily heightened physiological responses to stressful situations.

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