Women are hardwired to crave close friendships, and these bonds can provide us with unique benefits. Here, a few things researchers have recently uncovered about the power of friendships.
The friendship effect: Mountains become molehills
How it works: In a study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, researchers asked participants to stand at the base of a steep hill and estimate how tough it would be to climb. Those standing with a friend gauged the ascent to be less steep compared with those who were alone.
What's more... The longer the study participants had known their friends, the more gentle they estimated the incline to be.
The friendship effect: Disease becomes less deadly
How it works: Harvard research has shown that breast cancer patients with no friendship network are four times more likely to die from the disease than those with ten or more close friends.
What's more... Studies have also shown that social support can lower blood pressure, protect against dementia, and reduce the risk of depression.
The friendship effect: Stress feels more manageable
How it works: When women are stressed, their brains release the feel-good hormone oxytocin, which encourages them to bond. (Male brains, on the other hand, are more subject to the effects of the hormones cortisol and adrenaline, which promote the fight-or-flight response.)
What's more... "The female response is much more effective in mitigating stress and may be one reason women tend to outlive men," says Terri Apter, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Cambridge.
How anger, cursing, and negativity are actually good for you
From the April 2010 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
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