While many of us tend to use caffeine, and specifically coffee, to help get going in the morning and to power us through stressful circumstances at work, a study suggests that caffeine may have more positive effects on women than on men, at least in situations where collaboration is required. The research published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology indicates that when women consume caffeinated coffee, they perform better under pressure in a stressful situation than men do.
Dr. Lindsay St. Claire, a lecturer at the University of Bristol, led the study with the goal of testing “whether increased caffeine consumption exacerbates stress and disrupts team performance.”
Her research team tested 64 male and female participants with an average age of 22, asking them to complete various puzzles, collaborative memory tasks and negotiation in same-sex pairs after drinking both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee. The caffeinated version contained caffeine levels equivalent to three standard cups of coffee.
Researchers found that men’s memory perfomance under stress, after consuming caffeine, was substantially lower than that of women and that women, under the influence of caffeine, could solve puzzles 100 seconds faster than their caffeinated male counterparts. Researchers theorize that when under stress, men tend to behave more aggressively in a group situation; whereas, women are more likely to collaborate.
Dr. Eric Braverman, director of PATH Medical in New York. and author of “Younger (Sexier) You,” says he isn’t convinced this small study holds weight. “Caffeine raises dopamine and can help you meet the needs of stressful situations,” he told AOL Health, but whether or not it can help women handle stress better than men, he says, is entirely dependent on the group of people being studied.
Braverman says women typically do not handle stress as well as men, particularly women who are middle-aged or older. He says, at this age, women lose bone and muscle mass, which help power coping skills in the brain.
While Braverman admits caffeine can provide a boost to anyone’s ability to cope with stress if not consumed in excessive amounts, he adds, “studies on resilience support the fact that women cannot sustain high levels of caffeine without negative effects.”
Nevertheless, Braverman thinks studies on the links between stress and caffeine are important. “Our society uses caffeine all day long,” he says. “It’s all over the place. It’s important for us to understand its effects.”
Source: AOL Health