, Volume 34, Issue 1, pp 26-36

Interpretations of ambiguous social situations and cardiovascular responses in adolescents

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Background: Previous research has documented effects of ambiguous outcome social situations on individual differences in cardiovascular reactivity in laboratory contexts.Purpose: This study tested whether interpretations of ambiguous social situations are associated with daily life cardiovascular responses using ambulatory approaches.Methods: There were 206 high school adolescents assessed on interpretations of ambiguous social situations in the laboratory who then completed ambulatory monitoring of blood pressure (BP) and heart rate (HR) for 2 days.Results: Adolescents who perceived threat during ambiguous situations exhibited higher systolicBP when talking to others compared to occasions of not talking with anyone, whereas the opposite was true for those with low threat perception. For high-threat adolescents, higher systolicBP was found when interacting with friends, whereas for low threat adolescents, lower systolicBP was found when interacting with parents. Greater threat interpretations were also associated with elevatedHR at night.Conclusions: Understanding how adolescents perceive social interactions may help in gauging their daily cardiovascular responses.

This research was supported by the Pittsburgh Mind-Body Center (HL65111 and HL65112), National Institutes of Health grant HL25767, the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, and the William T. Grant Foundation.