Virus stress driving both genders to smut, sauce and sweets — research
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Virus stress driving both genders to smut, sauce and sweets — research

Findings from collaborative effort between Ben-Gurion University and Yeshiva University shows that pandemic-induced stress neutralizes ‘gendered consumer behavior,’ researcher says

Illustrative: Stressed man and woman at home. (Istock Images)
Illustrative: Stressed man and woman at home. (Istock Images)

If pandemic stress has you downing another six-pack of Schlitz while watching “Saving Ryan’s Privates” as your husband finishes off his third pint of chocolate fudge brownie ice cream, you’re not alone.

An Israeli researcher says the coronavirus lockdown may be erasing gender norms associated with stress, finding that both men and women are enjoying more porn, alcohol and chocolate in roughly equal numbers.

Dr. Enav Friedmann of the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba said that in general women are more likely to consume chocolate, while men are bigger consumers of alcohol and pornography.

But stick them in a stressful situation, like a global pandemic and nationwide lockdowns, and apparently they’ll both reach for all three.

“Even after years of research which stressed the biological differences between the sexes, we were surprised to discover that the default choice among both sexes was to act similarly. The stress allows us, in effect, to see the automatic behavior stripped of its gendered expectations,” she said in a press release. “The stress causes people to be flooded with emotions that neutralize ‘gendered consumer behavior.’”

Friedmann called this taboo-breaking impulse a “disruption of inhibition,” and claimed that it is caused by people lacking the cognitive energy to apply stereotypical gendered norms to their behavior during times of stress.

Dr. Enav Friedmann. (Dani Machlis/BGU)

“I see this as encouraging,” Friedmann told The Times of Israel. “We see that during a crisis we behave the same.”

Friedmann conducted the survey among 115 people from the UK (46 men and 69 women) and an additional experiment in Israel on 41 people that utilized facial recognition technology to determine the levels of stress the coronavirus pandemic caused people.

The research was conducted in a collaboration between BGU’s Friedmann, PhD student Gal Gutman and Yeshiva University’s Dr. Gil Peleg.

The research is ongoing and has yet to be published.

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