|Thriving together: the benefits of women's social ties for physical, psychological and relationship health
|Year of Publication
|Bedrov A, Gable SL
|Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
The relationship between social support and well-being is well established in social psychology, with evidence suggesting that these benefits are especially prominent among women. When faced with an environmental stressor, women are more likely to adopt a tend-and-befriend strategy rather than fight-or-flight. Furthermore, female friendships tend to be higher in self-disclosure and more frequently relied on for social support, which is associated with physical and psychological benefits. Women are also more effective at providing social support, further augmenting those benefits. We begin with an overview of the characteristics of women's social ties and how they can be especially useful in times of stress. We then transition to the benefits of female social networks even in the absence of negative events and incorporate research from health and social psychology to consider the positive implications of having strong social bonds and the negative implications of lacking such bonds. Additionally, we consider cross-cultural differences in tendencies to seek out social support and its subsequent benefits, as well as the need for more research with culturally diverse samples. It remains unclear the extent to which patterns of social support benefits for women vary cross-culturally. This article is part of the theme issue ‘Cooperation among women: evolutionary and cross-cultural perspectives’.