Annals of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 216–222

Negative emotions and acute physiological responses to stress


  • Pamela J. Feldman
    • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Sheldon Cohen
    • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Stephen J. Lepore
    • Brooklyn CollegeCity University of New York
  • Karen A. Matthews
    • University of Pittsburgh
  • Thomas W. Kamarck
    • University of Pittsburgh
  • Anna L. Marsland
    • University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

DOI: 10.1007/BF02884836

Cite this article as:
Feldman, P.J., Cohen, S., Lepore, S.J. et al. ann. behav. med. (1999) 21: 216. doi:10.1007/BF02884836


One pathway through which stressors are thought to influence physiology is through their effects on emotion. We used meta-analytic statisitical techniques with data from nine studies to test the effects of acute laboratory stressors (speech, star mirror-image tracing, handgrip) on emotional (undifferentiated negative emotion, anger, anxiety) and cardiovascular (CV) response. In all of the studies, participants responded to stressors with both increased CV response and increased negative emotion. Increases in negative emotion were associated with increases in CV response across tasks, however, these associations were small. The range of variance accounted for was between 2% and 12%. Thus, the contribution of negative emotion, as assessed in these studies, to physiological responses to acute laboratory stressors was limited. Although these results raise questions about the role of emotion in mediating stress-elicited physiological responses, the nature of the acute laboratory stress paradigm may contribute to the lack of a strong association.

Copyright information

© The Society of Behavioral Medicine 1999