Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
The Tending Instinct

The Tending Instinct

Women, Men, and the Biology of Nurturing

Shelley E. Taylor

Times Books




A groundbreaking work that reveals how the instinct to "tend and befriend" is vital for human society.

In times of crisis and upheaval, our responses to stress become especially important. We have long heard about the "fight or flight" response, but renowned psychologist Shelley E. Taylor points out that hardwired in females -- both humans and those of other species -- is an instinct that can transcend "fight or flight." Their "tend and befriend" response is not only demonstrable but, as Taylor deftly explains in this eye-opening work, a key ingredient in human social life.

With great skill and insight, Taylor examines stress, relationships, and human society through the special lens of women's biology. She draws on genetics, evolutionary psychology, physiology, and neuroscience to show how this tending process begins virtually at the moment of conception and literally crafts the biology of offspring through genes that rely on caregiving for their expression. Taylor also examines what drives women to seek each other's company, and to tend to the young and the infirm -- acts that greatly benefit the group but often at great cost to the individual.

The Tending Instinct will forever change the way we view ourselves, and will revolutionize our understanding of the role of women and nurturing in maintaining a stable society.


An epiphany in science is fairly rare, but when it happens, there is no sensation like it. The sudden recognition that all of the classic theories of stress were based almost entirely on males was as stunning as being hit over the head with a club....


Praise for The Tending Instinct

“In a profoundly important theoretical tour de force, Shelley Taylor moves caring and compassion to psychology's center stage. The Tending Instinct elevates women's natural strengths in caregiving and befriending to a long-deserved prominence in society. A crucial message for us all.” —Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence

“At last, the story of human development as told from a female perspective. It turns out that nurturing and caring are as essential to human nature--and human survival--as selfishness and aggression.” —Ann Crittenden, author of The Price of Motherhood

“. . . It does pave the way for exciting new avenues of inter-disciplinary research on how stress affects our lives.” —Psychology Today

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Shelley E. Taylor

Shelley E. Taylor is a professor of psychology at UCLA. A world-renowned expert on stress and health, Taylor is the author of more than 200 scientific papers. She is the recipient of the Outstanding Scientific Contribution Award in Health Psychology, the Donald Campbell Award in Social Psychology, Yale University's Wilbur Lucius Cross Medal, and the prestigious Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award of the American Psychological Association. Taylor lives in Los Angeles.

Shelley E. Taylor

Shelley E. Taylor

From the Publisher

Times Books

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