Bibbey A, Carroll D, Ginty AT & Phillips AC (2015) Cardiovascular and Cortisol Reactions to Acute Psychological Stress Under Conditions of High Versus Low Social Evaluative Threat: Associations With the Type D Personality Construct. Psychosomatic Medicine, 77 (5), pp. 599-608. https://doi.org/10.1097/psy.0000000000000194
Social evaluative threat is an important factor in the cardiovascular response to mental stress. This study examined whether Type D personality, characterized by social inhibition and negative affectivity, is associated with an adverse cardiovascular response to a non-social and social evaluative threat.
A total of 2300 students were screened for Type D personality, and 130 were selected for a nonsocial stress exposure condition (31 Type D, 30 non–Type D: 52% female) or a condition high in social evaluative threat (35 Type D, 34 non–Type D: 55% female). Systolic (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP), heart rate (HR), and salivary cortisol were measured.
Social evaluative threat resulted in higher cardiovascular responses than the nonsocial challenge (SBP, p = .001, η2 = 0.092;DBP, p = .006, η2 = 0.058;HR, p = .006, η2 = 0.059). The greatest cardiovascular stress reactions were exhibited by Type D participants in the high social evaluation condition; reflected in significant group by condition interactions for SBP (F(1,126) = 7.29, p = .008, η2 = 0.055), DBP (F(1,126) = 5.23, p = .024, η2 = 0.040), and HR (F(1,126) = 5.04, p = .027, η2 = 0.038) reactivity. Only Type Ds in the social condition mounted a positive cortisol response (F(1,33) = 5.07, p = .031, η2 = 0.133).
Type D individuals show different stress reactions depending on the social evaluative nature of the stress exposure. These findings suggest that dysregulation of the stress response in social situations potentially increases cardiovascular disease risk.
Type D personality; social evaluation; cardiovascular reactivity; cortisol reactivity; psychological stress
Psychosomatic Medicine: Volume 77, Issue 5