International Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 236-240

First online:

Cardiac Stress Reactivity and Recovery of Novelty Seekers

  • Mirka HintsanenAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Helsinki Email author 
  • , Sampsa PuttonenAffiliated withFinnish Institute of Occupational Health
  • , Petrus JärvinenAffiliated withDepartment of Medicine, University of Kuopio
  • , Laura Pulkki-RåbackAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Helsinki
  • , Marko ElovainioAffiliated withNational Research and Development Centre for Welfare and HealthDepartment of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London
  • , Päivi MerjonenAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Helsinki
  • , Liisa Keltikangas-JärvinenAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Helsinki

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Novelty seeking temperament has been associated with higher coronary heart disease risk factors, but the mechanism behind the association is open. Cardiac stress response is a potential candidate.


Cardiac stress reactivity and recovery was studied in 29 healthy subjects (aged 22–37 years) scoring extremely high (n = 16) or extremely low (n = 13) on temperamental dimension of novelty seeking.


Heart rate, respiratory sinus arrhythmia, and pre-ejection period were measured during challenging tasks. Differences in cardiac reactivity and recovery between the novelty seeking groups were examined with repeated-measures and univariate analyses.


The main finding was that stress reactivity did not differ between high and low novelty seeking groups, but high novelty seekers tended to show faster recovery, which is likely to be parasympathetically mediated.


The findings suggest that high novelty seekers may be more stress resilient because they might have faster cardiac recovery after stress. Cardiac stress reactivity seems not to be among the explaining factors for the association between novelty seeking and coronary heart disease risk factors.


Temperament Novelty seeking Cardiac reactivity Cardiac recovery Autonomic nervous system