, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 165-172

The effect of status on blood pressure during verbal communication

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Blood pressures and heart rates of 40 subjects were recorded at 1-min intervals over 35 min during which subjects engaged in a variety of verbal activities with either a high-status or an equal-status experimenter. All subjects showed statistically significant increases in blood pressure and heart rate when speaking compared to when quiet. Blood pressure increases during speaking of the 20 subjects exposed to a high-status experimenter were significantly greater than those of subjects exposed to an equal-status experimenter. While the blood pressure increase was related partly to the act of speaking, the amount of increase was also related to the social distance between experimenter and subject. The results are discussed relative to behavioral interventions for the treatment of hypertension.

The authors wish to acknowledge the assistance of Maynard Ramsey, M.D., Ph.D., Vice President of Research and Development, Applied Medical Research, and Bernard F. Krause, Ph.D., of Critikon for providing the Dinamap digital blood pressure monitor used in this study and for providing technical information about the device.