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Physiol Behav. 2001 Jun;73(3):435-42.

Social defeat as a stressor in humans.

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  • 1Abo Akademi University, P.O. Box 311, FIN-65101 Vaasa, Finland.


Studies on social defeat in humans, and their similarities with studies on social defeat in animals are reviewed. Studies on social defeat in humans typically are conducted as a branch of social psychology, most often focusing on bullying in schools and in workplaces. Victims of bullying are known to suffer from depression, anxiety, sociophobia, loss of self-esteem, psychosomatic diseases, and other behavioral symptoms. On the other hand, animal studies on social defeat, usually based on the rodent resident--intruder paradigm, present findings related to physiological rather than to behavioral consequences of defeat. The two branches use different terminology, e.g., "dominant" and "subordinate" (animal studies) and "bully" and "victim" (human studies). It is suggested that the two fields could benefit from a mutual exchange in theory and methodology.

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