• Linking Self-Perception of Stressful Experiences with Blood Pressure and Salivary Cortisol Levels in Undergraduate College Students

      Pike, Ivy; Wiley, Kyle Steven (The University of Arizona., 2013)
      A large body of research suggests self-perception of stressful experiences is not always a good predictor of stress biomarkers. On this front, anthropologists have an opportunity to disentangle the interactions between individual perceptions of stress and the stress response. To better understand these interactions we chose a sampling frame that allows individual participants to self-identify as high, medium, and low stress responders. We chose to conduct this research in an undergraduate student community for two reasons: 1) final exams serve as a similarly timed stressor, 2) given the perceived stress associated with student work loads, recruitment should be easier in an undergraduate community. With two data collection points, we recruited and sampled thirty-two students. Stress biomarker data include blood pressure and salivary cortisol, analyzed using Salimetrics high sensitivity salivary cortisol enzyme immunoassay kits. A short questionnaire was used to indicate an individuals’ perception of the role of stress in their lives. Our interview data suggest an awareness of highly variable responses to stress. By comparing the interview data to stress biomarkers across self-designated categories of stress reactions we plan to link variation in perception, reactivity, and biomarkers to develop a more nuanced understanding of the stress response and its physiological outcomes.