Cardiovascular reactivity, stress, and personal emotional salience: Choose your tasks carefully
AffiliationDepartment of Psychology, University of Arizona
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CitationBourassa, K. J., & Sbarra, D. A. (2022). Cardiovascular reactivity, stress, and personal emotional salience: Choose your tasks carefully. Psychophysiology.
Rights© 2022 Society for Psychophysiological Research.
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AbstractBoth greater cardiovascular reactivity and lesser reactivity (“blunting”) to laboratory stressors are linked to poor health outcomes, including among people who have a history of traumatic experiences. In a sample of recently separated and divorced adults (N = 96), this study examined whether differences in cardiovascular reactivity might be explained by differences in the personal emotional salience of the tasks and trauma history. Participants were assessed for trauma history, current distress related to their marital dissolution, and cardiovascular reactivity during two tasks, a serial subtraction math stressor task and a divorce-recall task. Participants with a greater trauma history evidenced less blood pressure reactivity to the serial subtraction task (a low personal emotional salience task) when compared to participants with less trauma history. In contrast, participants with a greater trauma history evidenced higher blood pressure reactivity to the divorce-recall task, but only if they also reported more divorce-related distress (high personal emotional salience). These associations were not significant for heart rate reactivity. Among people with a history of more traumatic experiences, a task with low personal salience was associated with a lower blood pressure response, whereas a task with higher personal emotional salience was associated with a higher blood pressure response. Future studies examining cardiovascular reactivity would benefit from determining the personal emotional salience of tasks, particularly for groups that have experienced stressful life events or trauma.
Note12 month embargo; first published: 15 March 2022
VersionFinal accepted manuscript
SponsorsNational Institute of Mental Health