The role of autonomy-connectedness in stress-modulating effects of social support in women: An experimental study using a virtual Trier Social Stress Test

L.E. Kunst*, M.H.J. Bekker, J. Maas, M.A.L.M. van Assen, S.N.C. Duijndam, M.M.E. Riem

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

Social support is associated with mental well-being and favorable therapy outcomes. As autonomy-connectedness, the capacity for self-governance in interpersonal context, may affect reliance on others, we investigated whether stress-modulating effects of social support are moderated by autonomy-connectedness. Ninety-seven undergraduates completed measures on autonomy-connectedness and trait social anxiety, and attended a laboratory session with a friend (support) or alone (control). All underwent a virtual Trier Social Stress Test and completed anxiety, cortisol and heart rate (variability) measures. Preregistered analyses revealed that social support reduced anxiety reactivity and delayed heart rate variability decreases, but not heart rate. Contrary to hypotheses, autonomy-connectedness did not predict stress-reactivity or interact with condition. Exploratory analyses suggested effects of social support on cortisol reactivity and indicated that reported support quality varied by trait anxiety and self-awareness. Our findings underline the stress-modulating effects of social support and suggest that social support can benefit individuals with varying levels of autonomy-connectedness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)198-209
JournalInternational Journal of Psychophysiology
Volume170
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • ANXIETY DISORDER
  • ATTACHMENT
  • Anxiety
  • Autonomy
  • Autonomy-connectedness
  • BEHAVIOR
  • DEPRESSION
  • EXCESSIVE REASSURANCE-SEEKING
  • REACTIVITY
  • RESPONSES
  • SCALE
  • SEX-DIFFERENCES
  • SHORT-FORM
  • Social support
  • Stress-reactivity

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