Is stress affecting our ability to tune into others? Evidence for gender differences in the effects of stress on self-other distinction

Journal article


Tomova, L., von Dawans, Bernadette, Heinrichs, Markus, Silani, G. and Lamm, C.. (2014) Is stress affecting our ability to tune into others? Evidence for gender differences in the effects of stress on self-other distinction. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 43, pp. 95 - 104. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2014.02.006
AuthorsTomova, L., von Dawans, Bernadette, Heinrichs, Markus, Silani, G. and Lamm, C.
Abstract

Stress is a ubiquitous challenge in society as we consistently interact with others under the influence of stress. Distinguishing self- from other-related mental representations plays an important role for social interactions, and is a prerequisite for crucial social skills such as action understanding, empathy, and mentalizing. Little is known, however, about the effects of stress on self-other distinction. We assessed how acute stress impacts self-other distinction in the perceptual-motor, the affective, and the cognitive domain, in a male and female sample. In all domains, the results show opposing effects of stress on the two genders: while women showed increases in self-other distinction, men showed decreases. Our findings suggest that women flexibly disambiguate self and other under stress, enabling accurate social responses, while men respond with increased egocentricity and less adaptive regulation. This has crucial implications for explaining gender differences in social skills such as empathy and prosociality.

Keywordsself-other distinction; empathy; perspective taking; imitation; egocentricity; psychosocial stress; cortisol; gender
Year2014
JournalPsychoneuroendocrinology
Journal citation43, pp. 95 - 104
PublisherElsevier Ltd
ISSN0306-4530
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2014.02.006
Page range95 - 104
Research GroupSchool of Philosophy
Place of publicationUnited Kingdom
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Chen, Frances S., Kumsta, Robert, von Dawans, Bernadette, Monakhov, Mikhail, Ebstein, Richard P. and Heinrichs, Markus. (2011) Common oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) polymorphism and social support interact to reduce stress in humans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 108(50), pp. 19937 - 19942. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1113079108
Oxytocin and vasopressin in the human brain: Social neuropeptides for translational medicine
Meyer-Lindenberg, Andreas, Domes, Gregor, Kirsch, Peter and Heinrichs, Markus. (2011) Oxytocin and vasopressin in the human brain: Social neuropeptides for translational medicine. Nature Reviews Neuroscience. 12(9), pp. 524 - 538. https://doi.org/10.1038/nrn3044
Oxytocin increases recognition of masked emotional faces
Schulze, Lars, Lischke, Alexander, Greif, Jonas, Herpertz, Sabine C., Heinrichs, Markus and Domes, Gregor. (2011) Oxytocin increases recognition of masked emotional faces. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 36(9), pp. 1378 - 1382. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2011.03.011
Prejudice and truth about the effect of testosterone on human bargaining behaviour
Eisenegger, C., Naef, M., Snozzi, R., Heinrichs, Markus and Fehr, Ernst. (2010) Prejudice and truth about the effect of testosterone on human bargaining behaviour. Nature. 463(7279), pp. 356 - 359. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature08711
Oxytocin attenuates amygdala reactivity to fear in generalized social anxiety disorder
Labuschagne, Izelle, Phan, K. Luan, Wood, Amanda G., Angstadt, Mike, Chua, Phyllis, Heinrichs, Markus, Stout, Julie C. and Nathan, Pradeep. (2010) Oxytocin attenuates amygdala reactivity to fear in generalized social anxiety disorder. Neuropsychopharmacology. 35(12), pp. 2403 - 2413. https://doi.org/10.1038/npp.2010.123
Closeness in relationships as a mediator between sexual abuse in childhood or adolescence and psychopathological outcome in adulthood
Dimitrova, Nevena, Pierrehumbert, Blaise, Glatz, Nathalie, Torrisi, Raffaella, Heinrichs, Markus, Halfon, Oliver and Chouchena, Oliver. (2010) Closeness in relationships as a mediator between sexual abuse in childhood or adolescence and psychopathological outcome in adulthood. Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy: an international journal of theory and practice. 17(3), pp. 183 - 195. https://doi.org/10.1002/cpp.650
Effects of intranasal oxytocin on emotional face processing in women
Domes, Gregor, Lischke, Alexander, Berger, Christoph, Grossmann, Annette, Hauenstein, Karlheinz, Heinrichs, Markus and Herpertz, Sabine C.. (2010) Effects of intranasal oxytocin on emotional face processing in women. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 35(1), pp. 83 - 93. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2009.06.016
The neural correlates of sex differences in emotional reactivity and emotion regulation
Domes, Gregor, Schulze, L., Böttger, Moritz, Grossmann, Annette, Hauenstein, Karlheinz, Wirtz, Petra H., Heinrichs, Markus and Herpertz, Sabine C.. (2010) The neural correlates of sex differences in emotional reactivity and emotion regulation. Human Brain Mapping. 31(5), pp. 758 - 769. https://doi.org/10.1002/hbm.20903
Maternal cortisol in late pregnancy and hypothalamicpituitaryadrenal reactivity to psychosocial stress postpartum in women
Meinlschmidt, Gunther, Martin, Cyrill, Neumann, Inga D. and Heinrichs, Markus. (2010) Maternal cortisol in late pregnancy and hypothalamicpituitaryadrenal reactivity to psychosocial stress postpartum in women. Stress: the International Journal on the Biology of Stress. 13(2), pp. 163 - 171. https://doi.org/10.3109/10253890903128632
Oxytocin enhances the experience of attachment security
Buchheim, Anna, Heinrichs, Markus, George, Carol, Pokorny, Dan, Koops, Eva, Henningsen, Peter, O'Connor, Mary Frances and Gündel, Harald. (2009) Oxytocin enhances the experience of attachment security. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 34(9), pp. 1417 - 1422. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2009.04.002
The influence of attachment on perceived stress and cortisol response to acute stress in women sexually abused in childhood or adolescence
Pierrehumbert, Blaise, Torrisi, Raffaella, Glatz, Nathalie, Dimitrova, Nevena, Heinrichs, Markus and Halfon, Oliver. (2009) The influence of attachment on perceived stress and cortisol response to acute stress in women sexually abused in childhood or adolescence. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 34(6), pp. 924 - 938. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2009.01.006
The level of physical activity affects adrenal and cardiovascular reactivity to psychosocial stress
Rimmele, Ulrike, Seiler, Roland, Marti, Bernard, Wirtz, Petra H., Ehlert, Ulrike and Heinrichs, Markus. (2009) The level of physical activity affects adrenal and cardiovascular reactivity to psychosocial stress. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 34(2), pp. 190 - 198. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2008.08.023
Oxytocin makes a face in memory familiar
Rimmele, Ulrike, Hediger, Karin, Heinrichs, Markus and Klaver, Peter. (2009) Oxytocin makes a face in memory familiar. Journal of Neuroscience. 29(1), pp. 38 - 42. https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4260-08.2009
Intranasal Oxytocin Increases Positive Communication and Reduces Cortisol Levels During Couple Conflict
Ditzen, Beate, Schaer, Marcel, Gabriel, Barbara, Bodenmann, Guy, Ehlert, Ulrike and Heinrichs, Markus. (2009) Intranasal Oxytocin Increases Positive Communication and Reduces Cortisol Levels During Couple Conflict. Biological Psychiatry. 65(9), pp. 728 - 731. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2008.10.011
Glucocorticoids do not reduce subjective fear in healthy subjects exposed to social stress
Soravia, Leila M., De Quervain, Dominique and Heinrichs, Markus. (2009) Glucocorticoids do not reduce subjective fear in healthy subjects exposed to social stress. Biological Psychology. 81(3), pp. 184 - 188. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsycho.2009.04.001
Oxytocin, vasopressin, and human social behavior
Heinrichs, Markus, von Dawans, Bernadette and Domes, Gregor. (2009) Oxytocin, vasopressin, and human social behavior. Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology. 30(4), pp. 548 - 557. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yfrne.2009.05.005
Adult attachment and social support interact to reduce psychological but not cortisol responses to stress
Ditzen, Beate, Schmidt, Silke, Strauss, Bernhard, Nater, U M., Ehlert, Ulrike and Heinrichs, Markus. (2008) Adult attachment and social support interact to reduce psychological but not cortisol responses to stress. Journal of Psychosomatic Research. 64(5), pp. 479 - 486. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychores.2007.11.011
Effects of Oxytocin and Prosocial Behavior on Brain Responses to Direct and Vicariously Experienced Pain
Singer, Tania, Snozzi, R., Bird, Geoffrey, Petrovic, Predrag, Silani, G., Heinrichs, Markus and Dolan, Raymond J.. (2008) Effects of Oxytocin and Prosocial Behavior on Brain Responses to Direct and Vicariously Experienced Pain. Emotion. 8(6), pp. 781 - 791. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0014195
Oxytocin Shapes the Neural Circuitry of Trust and Trust Adaptation in Humans
Baumgartner, Thomas, Heinrichs, Markus, Vonlanthen, Aline, Fischbacher, Urs and Fehr, Ernst. (2008) Oxytocin Shapes the Neural Circuitry of Trust and Trust Adaptation in Humans. Neuron. 58(4), pp. 639 - 650. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2008.04.009
The acute effects of intranasal oxytocin administration on endocrine and sexual function in males
Burri, Andrea, Heinrichs, Markus, Schedlowski, Manfred and Kruger, T. H. C.. (2008) The acute effects of intranasal oxytocin administration on endocrine and sexual function in males. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 33(5), pp. 591 - 600. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2008.01.014
Neuropeptides and social behaviour: effects of oxytocin and vasopressin in humans
Heinrichs, Markus and Domes, Gregor. (2008) Neuropeptides and social behaviour: effects of oxytocin and vasopressin in humans. Progress in Brain Research. 170, pp. 337 - 350. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0079-6123(08)00428-7
Oxytocin Improves "Mind-Reading" in Humans
Domes, Gregor, Heinrichs, Markus, Michel, Andre, Berger, Christoph and Herpertz, Sabine C.. (2007) Oxytocin Improves "Mind-Reading" in Humans. Biological Psychiatry. 61(6), pp. 731 - 733. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2006.07.015
Oxytocin Attenuates Amygdala Responses to Emotional Faces Regardless of Valence
Domes, Gregor, Heinrichs, Markus, Gläscher, Jan, Büchel, Christian, Braus, Dieter F. and Herpertz, Sabine C.. (2007) Oxytocin Attenuates Amygdala Responses to Emotional Faces Regardless of Valence. Biological Psychiatry. 62(10), pp. 1187 - 1190. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2007.03.025
Neuroendocrine mechanisms of stress and social interaction: Implications for mental disorders
Heinrichs, Markus and Gaab, Jens. (2007) Neuroendocrine mechanisms of stress and social interaction: Implications for mental disorders. Current Opinion in Psychiatry. 20(2), pp. 158 - 162. https://doi.org/10.1097/YCO.0b013e3280146a13
Emotional and cardiovascular reactions of couples during a couple-therapeutic intervention: A pilot study
Schaer, Marcel, Ditzen, Beate, Heinrichs, Markus and Bodenmann, Guy. (2007) Emotional and cardiovascular reactions of couples during a couple-therapeutic intervention: A pilot study. Zeitschrift fuer Klinische Psychologie und Psychotherapie: Forschung und Praxis. 36(4), pp. 251 - 260. https://doi.org/10.1026/1616-3443.36.4.251
Effects of different kinds of couple interaction on cortisol and heart rate responses to stress in women
Ditzen, Beate, Neumann, Inga D., Bodenmann, Guy, von Dawans, Bernadette, Turner, Rebecca A., Ehlert, Ulrike and Heinrichs, Markus. (2007) Effects of different kinds of couple interaction on cortisol and heart rate responses to stress in women. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 32(5), pp. 565 - 574. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2007.03.011
Trained men show lower cortisol, heart rate and psychological responses to psychosocial stress compared with untrained men
Rimmele, Ulrike, Zellweger, Bea Costa, Marti, Bernard, Seiler, Roland, Mohiyeddini, Changiz, Ehlert, Ulrike and Heinrichs, Markus. (2007) Trained men show lower cortisol, heart rate and psychological responses to psychosocial stress compared with untrained men. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 32(6), pp. 627 - 635. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2007.04.005
Glucocorticoids reduce phobic fear in humans
Soravia, Leila M., Heinrichs, Markus, Aerni, Amanda, Maroni, Caroline, Schelling, Gustav, Ehlert, Ulrike, Roozendaal, Benno and De Quervain, Dominique. (2006) Glucocorticoids reduce phobic fear in humans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of USA. 103(14), pp. 5585 - 5590. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0509184103
Oxytocin increases trust in humans
Kosfeld, Michael, Heinrichs, Markus, Zak, Paul J., Fischbacher, Urs and Fehr, Ernst. (2005) Oxytocin increases trust in humans. Nature. 435(7042), pp. 673 - 676. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature03701
Predicting posttraumatic stress symptoms from pretraumatic risk factors: A 2-year prospective follow-up study in firefighters
Heinrichs, Markus, Wagner, D., Schoch, Walter, Soravia, Leila M., Hellhammer, Dirk H. and Ehlert, Ulrike. (2005) Predicting posttraumatic stress symptoms from pretraumatic risk factors: A 2-year prospective follow-up study in firefighters. American Journal of Psychiatry. 162(12), pp. 2276 - 2286. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.162.12.2276
Selective amnesic effects of oxytocin on human memory
Heinrichs, Markus, Meinlschmidt, Gunther, Wippich, Werner, Ehlert, Ulrike and Hellhammer, Dirk H.. (2004) Selective amnesic effects of oxytocin on human memory. Physiology & Behavior. 83(1 SPEC. ISS.), pp. 31 - 38. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.physbeh.2004.07.020
Acute stress impairs recognition for positive words - Association with stress-induced cortisol secretion
Domes, Gregor, Heinrichs, Markus, Rimmele, Ulrike, Reichwald, U. and Hautzinger, M.. (2004) Acute stress impairs recognition for positive words - Association with stress-induced cortisol secretion. Stress: the International Journal on the Biology of Stress. 7(3), pp. 173 - 181. https://doi.org/10.1080/10253890412331273213
Social support and oxytocin interact to suppress cortisol and subjective responses to psychosocial stress
Heinrichs, Markus, Baumgartner, Thomas, Kirschbaum, Clemens and Ehlert, Ulrike. (2003) Social support and oxytocin interact to suppress cortisol and subjective responses to psychosocial stress. Biological Psychiatry. 54(12), pp. 1389 - 1398. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0006-3223(03)00465-7
Lactation and stress: Protective effects of breast-feeding in humans
Heinrichs, Markus, Neumann, Inga D. and Ehlert, Ulrike. (2002) Lactation and stress: Protective effects of breast-feeding in humans. Stress: the International Journal on the Biology of Stress. 5(3), pp. 195 - 203. https://doi.org/10.1080/1025389021000010530
Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis reactivity to psychological stress and memory in middle-aged women: High responders exhibit enhanced declarative memory performance
Domes, Gregor, Heinrichs, Markus, Reichwald, U. and Hautzinger, M.. (2002) Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis reactivity to psychological stress and memory in middle-aged women: High responders exhibit enhanced declarative memory performance. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 27(7), pp. 843 - 853. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0306-4530(01)00085-3
Effects of suckling on hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis responses to psychosocial stress in postpartum lactating women
Heinrichs, Markus, Meinlschmidt, Gunther, Neumann, Inga D., Wagner, Sabine, Kirschbaum, Clemens, Ehlert, Ulrike and Hellhammer, Dirk H.. (2001) Effects of suckling on hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis responses to psychosocial stress in postpartum lactating women. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 86(10), pp. 4798 - 4804. https://doi.org/10.1210/jc.86.10.4798
Psychoneuroendocrinological contributions to the etiology of depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and stress-related bodily disorders: The role of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis
Ehlert, Ulrike, Gaab, Jens and Heinrichs, Markus. (2001) Psychoneuroendocrinological contributions to the etiology of depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and stress-related bodily disorders: The role of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis. Biological Psychology. 57(43891), pp. 141 - 152. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0301-0511(01)00092-8
Social desirability scores are associated with higher morning cortisol levels in firefighters
Brody, Stuart, Wagner, D., Heinrichs, Markus, James, Alma, Hellhammer, Dirk H. and Ehlert, Ulrike. (2000) Social desirability scores are associated with higher morning cortisol levels in firefighters. Journal of Psychosomatic Research. 49(4), pp. 227 - 228. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0022-3999(00)00169-0
Psychobiological aspects of posttraumatic stress disorder
Ehlert, Ulrike, Wagner, D., Heinrichs, Markus and Heim, Christine. (1999) Psychobiological aspects of posttraumatic stress disorder. Der Nervenarzt: Monatsschrift fuer alle Gebiete nervenaerztlicher Forschung und Praxis. 70(9), pp. 773 - 779. https://doi.org/10.1007/s001150050511
Prevalence of symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder in German professional firefighters
Wagner, D., Heinrichs, Markus and Ehlert, Ulrike. (1998) Prevalence of symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder in German professional firefighters. American Journal of Psychiatry. 155(12), pp. 1727 - 1732. https://doi.org/10.1176/ajp.155.12.1727