Individual Differences in the Psychobiological Response to Psychosocial Stress (Trier Social Stress Test): The Relevance of Trait Anxiety and Coping Styles

Carolina Villada*, Vanesa Hidalgo, Mercedes Almela, Alicia Salvador

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The main objective of this study was to investigate the contribution of some personality traits to the physiological and psychological response to a standardized laboratory psychosocial stressor (trier social stress test). Cortisol and affective response (anxiety and mood) were analysed in a mixed-sex group composed of 35 young adults who participated in a crossover design (18 men and 17 women). After verifying a statistically significant response to the trier social stress test in all parameters studied in both sex groups, exploratory cluster analyses were carried out to identify sub-groups based on their psychophysiological responses. These analyses showed two different groups: subjects displaying lower psychological response along with higher cortisol response (cluster 1) compared with the group with high affective reactivity along with lower cortisol response (cluster 2). Interestingly, we also found significant differences in trait anxiety and coping styles when the two clusters were compared. Subjects in cluster 1 showed lower scores on trait anxiety and higher scores on active coping, whereas the subjects in the second cluster obtained higher scores on anxiety and on coping focused on emotions and mental disengagement. These findings support the importance of personality traits and coping styles in understanding the overall integrative psychobiological responsiveness to social stress.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-99
JournalStress and Health
Volume32
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • coping styles
  • cortisol
  • psychosocial stress
  • trait anxiety

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