Interestingly, the younger participants fared better than the older participants when they were paired with friends but weren’t as good at communicating with strangers. The older participants, on the other hand, were able to complete the challenge with both friends and strangers.
As postdoctoral researcher Michelle Rodrigues, Ph.D., explains in a news release, the task required participants to see where the other person was coming from. “It seems like the younger adults are a little more hesitant in trying to do that, whereas the older adults have an easier time doing that with strangers,” she explains.
Perhaps most interestingly, the women who were paired with friends had lower cortisol levels than those paired with strangers in both age groups.
According to Rodrigues, “Women have evolved an alternative mechanism in response to stress […] In order to deal with stress, women can befriend female peers.”