Howard S, Gallagher S, Ginty AT & Whittaker AC (2022) Life event stress is associated with blunted cardiovascular responding to both personally salient and personally non‐salient laboratory tasks. Psychophysiology. https://doi.org/10.1111/psyp.14199
Life event stress has been associated with blunted cardiovascular reactivity to acute psychological stress. However, recent studies have suggested that blunted reactivity to stress only arises when the laboratory tasks are not personally salient to the individual. We re-analyzed data from 136 healthy young adults where we had previously reported a negative association between life event stress and cardiovascular reactivity to two combined stressors. Participants completed a mental arithmetic task and a personally salient speech task, following a formal baseline period with Finometer-assessed cardiovascular parameters. The reanalyses examined reactivity to the verbal mental arithmetic (personally non-salient) and speech (personally salient) tasks separately and found that life event stress was negatively associated with diastolic blood pressure reactivity, to both the personally non-salient, β = −.20, p = .023, and personally salient stressors, β = −.24, p = .004. Life event stress was negatively associated with systolic blood pressure reactivity to the personally salient stressor only, β = −.20, p = .021, and was not associated with heart rate reactivity. This study provides evidence against the argument that blunted reactivity to stress emerges as a result of stressor context, with findings indicating that low reactors show lower reactivity to both personally salient and personally non-salient stress.
blunted reactivity; cardiovascular reactivity; life event stress; personally salient stress
Output Status: Forthcoming/Available Online