The effects of the social environment on stress-related cardiovascular activation: Current findings, prospects, and implications
Rent the article at a discountRent now
* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.Get Access
Social relationships have been shown to be health-protective and to improve cardiovascular disease prognosis. One of the mechanisms by which social relationships may alter health status is through altering patterns of neuroendocrine or hemodynamic responding to ongoing activity. For example, research with non-human primates suggests that disrupted social relationships may increase cardiovascular risk through their effects on sympathetic nervous system activation. In humans, a number of recent reports have shown that the presence of an affiliative companion can reduce cardiovascular activity during psychologically challenging tasks, results which are consistent with this proposed mechanism of effect. We review the recent human literature which has examined the effects of the social environment on stress-related cardiovascular activity. Although findings in this literature are generally consistent, recent anomalous results are reviewed which shed light on some of the context-dependent effects of social affiliation. Additional areas for further investigation are examined, including possible mechanisms for explaining these social affiliation effects, individual differences which may moderate these effects, and emerging methodological advances for examining how these effects may generalize to the natural environment.
Preparation of this manuscript was supported in part by grant HL45016 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
The authors are grateful to the following individuals for their contributions to the laboratory that produced this work: Lee Meriwether Amateau, Barbara Annunziato, Stephanie Asman, Paula Cerrone, Michael Eddy, Sandy Finney, Serena Neumann, and Verne Pro.
Gordon D, Guyton JR, Karnovsky MJ: Intimal alterations in rat aorta induced by stressful stimuli.Laboratory Investigation. 1981,45:14–27.PubMed
Kaplan JR, Pettersson K, Manuck SB, Olsson G: The role of sympathoadrenal medullary activation in the initiation and progression of atherosclerosis.Circulation. 1991,Suppl IV:23–32.
Markovitz JH, Matthews KA: Platelets and coronary heart disease: Potential psychophysiologic mechanisms.Psychosomatic Medicine. 1991,53:643–668.PubMed
Rozanski A, Bairey N, Krantz DS, et al: Mental stress and the induction of silent myocardial ischemia in patients with coronary artery disease.New England Journal of Medicine. 1988,318:1005–1012.PubMed
Menkes MS, Matthews KA, Krantz DS, et al: Cardiovascular reactivity to the cold pressor test as a predictor of hypertension.Hypertension. 1989,14:524–530.PubMed
Wood DL, Sheps SG, Elveback LR, Schirger A: Cold pressor test as a predictor of hypertension.Hypertension. 1984,6:520–524.
Kamarck TW, Everson SA, Kaplan GA, et al: Exaggerated blood pressure responses during mental stress are associated with enhanced carotid atherosclerosis in middle aged Finnish men: Findings from the Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease Study.Circulation. 1997,96:3842–3848.PubMed
Everson SA, Lynch JW, Chesney MA, et al: Interaction of workplace demands and cardiovascular reactivity in progression of carotid atherosclerosis: Population based study.British Medical Journal. 1997,314:553–558.PubMed
Manuck SB, Olsson G, Hjemdahl P, Rehnqvist N: Does cardiovascular reactivity to mental stress have prognostic value in postinfarction patients? A pilot study.Psychosomatic Medicine. 1992,54:102–108.PubMed
Berkman LF, Leo-Summers L, Horwitz RI: Emotional support and survival after myocardial infarction.Annals of Internal Medicine. 1992,117:1003–1009.PubMed
Berkman LF, Breslaw L: Social networks and mortality risk. In Berkman LF, Breslaw L (eds),Health and Ways of Living: The Almeda County Study. New York: Oxford University Press, 1983, 113–160.
Kaplan JR, Manuck SB, Clarkson TB, Lusso FM, Taub DM: Social status, environment, and atherosclerosis in cynomolgus monkeys.Arteriosclerosis. 1982,2:359–368.PubMed
Manuck SB, Kaplan JR, Muldoon MF, Adams MR: The behavioral exacerbation of atherosclerosis and its inhibition by propranolol. In McCabe P, Schneiderman N, Field T, Skylar J (eds),Stress, Coping, and Disease. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., 1991, 51–72.
Manuck SB, Kasprowicz A, Muldoon MF: Behaviorally-evoked cardiovascular reactivity and hypertension: Conceptual issues and potential associations.Annals of Behavioral Medicine. 1990,12:17–29.CrossRef
Gantt WH, Newton JEO, Royer F, Stephens JH: Effect of person.Conditional Reflex. 1966,1:18–35.
Drescher VM, Gantt WH, Whitehead WE: Heart rate response to touch.Psychosomatic Medicine. 1980,42:559–565.PubMed
Drescher VM, Hayhurst V, Whitehead WE, Joseph JA: The effects of tactile stimulation on pulse rate and blood pressure.Biological Psychiatry. 1982,17:1347–1352.PubMed
Kissel S: Stress-reducing properties of social stimuli.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 1965,2:378–384.CrossRef
Kamarck TW, Manuck SB, Jennings JR: Social support reduces cardiovascular reactivity to psychological challenge: A laboratory model.Psychosomatic Medicine. 1990,52:42–58.PubMed
Kamarck TW, Annuziato B, Merriwether-Amateau L: Affiliation moderates the effects of social threat on stress-related cardiovascular responses: Boundary conditions for a laboratory model of social support.Psychosomatic Medicine. 1995,57:183–194.PubMed
Gerin W, Milner D, Chawla S, Pickering T: Social support as a moderator of cardiovascular reaction in women: A test of the direct effects and buffering hypothesis.Psychosomatic Medicine. 1995,57:16–22.PubMed
Suarez EC, Williams RB: Situational determinants of cardiovascular and emotional reactivity in high and low hostile men.Psychosomatic Medicine. 1989,52:404–418.
Suarez EC, Williams RB: The relationships between dimensions of hostility and cardiovascular reactivity as a function of task characteristics.Psychosomatic Medicine. 1990,52:558–570.PubMed
Manuck SB, Kaplan JR, Clarkson TB: Atherosclerosis, social dominance, and cardiovascular reactivity. In Schmidt TH, Dembroski TM, Blumchen G (eds),Biological and Psychological Factors in Cardiovascular Disease. New York: Springer-Verlag, 1986, 459–475.
Hess WR:Das Zwischenhirn. Syndrome. Lokalizationen, Funktionen. Basel, Switzerland: Benno Schwabe, 1949.
Gerin W, Pieper C, Levy R, Pickering TG: Social support in social interaction: A moderator of cardiovascular reactivity.Pscyhosomatic Medicine. 1992,54:324–336.
Lepore SJ, Allen KA, Evans GW: Social support lowers cardiovascular reactivity to an acute stressor.Psychosomatic Medicine. 1993,55:518–524.PubMed
Christenfeld N, Gerin W, Linden W, et al: Social support effects on cardiovascular reactivity: Is a stranger as effective as a friend?Psychosomatic Medicine. 1997,59:388–398.PubMed
Uchino BN, Cacioppo JT, Kiecolt-Glaser JK: The relationship between social support and physiological processes: A review with emphasis on underlying mechanisms and implications for health.Psychological Bulletin. 1996,19:488–531.CrossRef
Sheffield D, Carroll D: Social support and cardiovascular reactions to active laboratory stressors.Psychology and Health. 1994,9:305–316.CrossRef
Snydersmith MA, Cacioppo JT: Parsing complex social factors to determine component effects: I. Autonomic activity and reactivity as a function of human associtation.Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. 1992,11:263–278.
Rosenthal R:Meta-Analytic Procedures For Social Research. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications 1991.
Stouffer SA:The American Soldier: Vol. 1. Adjustment During Army Life. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1949.
Raynor DA, Cerrone P, Finney S, Kamarck TW: Discrepant effects of social affiliation on perceived support and cardiovascular reactivity. Annual Meeting of the Society of Behavioral Medicine. San Francisco, CA: April 1997.
Orbist PA:Cardiovascular Psychophysiology. New York: Plenum Press, 1981.
Light KC, Orbist PA: Cardiovascular reactivity to behavioral stress in young males with and without marginally elevated casual systolic pressures.Hypertension. 1980,2:802–808.PubMed
Wright RA: Brehm's theory of motivation as a model of effort and cardiovascular response. In Gollwitzer PM, Bargh JA (eds),The Psychology of Action: Linking Cognition and Motivation to Behavior. New York: Guilford, 1996.
Jern S, Bergbrant A, Bjorntorp P, Hansson L: Relation of central hemodynamics to obesity and body fat distribution.Hypertension. 1992,19:520–527.PubMed
Meany MJ, Bhatnagar S, Diorio J, et al: Molecular basis for the development of individual differences in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal stress response.Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology. 1993,13:321–347.CrossRef
Kirschbaum C, Klauer T, Filip S, Hellhammer DH: Sex-specific effects of social support on cortisol and subjective responses to acute psychological stress.Psychosomatic Medicine. 1995,57:23–31.PubMed
Markman HJ, Notarius CI: Coding marital and family interaction: Current status. In Jacob T (ed),Family Interaction and Psychopathology. Theories, Methods and Findings. New York: Plenum, 1987.
Haynes SG, Matthews KA: Review and methodologic critique of recent studies on Type A behavior and cardiovascular disease.Annals of Behavioral Medicine. 1988,10:47–59.CrossRef
Gray JA: Brain systems that mediate both emotion and cognition.Cognition and Emotion. 1990,4:269–288.CrossRef
Wilson GD, Barrett PT, Gray JA: Human reactions to reward and punishment: A questionnaire examination of Gray's personality theory.British Journal of Psychology. 1989,80:509–515.PubMed
Cloninger CR: A systematic method for clinical description and classification of personality variants.Archives of General Psychiatry. 1987,44:573–588.PubMed
Carver CS, White, TL: Behavioral inhibition, behavioral activation, and affective responses to impending reward and punishment: The BIS/BAS scales.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 1994,67:319–333.CrossRef
Verbrugge LM: Female illness rates and illness behavior: Testing hypotheses about sex differences in health.Women and Health. 1979,4:61–79.CrossRef
Powers E, Bultena G: Sex differences in intimate friendships in old age.Journal of Marriage and Family. 1976,38:739–747.CrossRef
Flaherty J, Richamn J: Gender differences in the perception and utilization of social support: Theoretical perspectives and an empirical test.Social Science and Medicine. 1982,28:1221–1228.
Berkman LF, Vaccarino V, Seeman T: Gender differences in cardiovascular morbidity and mortality: The contribution of social networks and support.Annals of Behavioral Medicine. 1993,15:112–118.
Seeman TF, McEwen BS: Impact of social environment characteristics on neuroendocrine regulation.Psychosomatic Medicine. 1996,58:459–471.PubMed
Spitzer SB, Llabre MM, Ironson GH, Gellman MD, Schneiderman N: The influence of social situations on ambulatory blood pressure.Psychosomatic Medicine. 1992,54:79–86.PubMed
Kamarck T, Shiffman S, Smithline L, et al: The diary of ambulatory behavioral states: A new approach to the assessment of psychosocial influences on ambulatory cardiovascular activity. In Krantz DS, Baum A (eds).Technology and Methods in Behavioral Medicine. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1998.
Stone AA, Shiffman S: Ecological momentary assessment (EMA) in behavioral medicine.Annals of Behavioral Medicine. 1994,16:199–202.
House JS, Kahn RL: Measures and concepts of social support. In Cohen S, Syme SL (eds),Social Support and Health. Orlando, FL: Academic Press Inc, 1985.
Schwarz N: Assessing frequency reports of mundane behaviors. In Hendrick C, Clark MS (eds),Research Methods in Personality and Social Psychology. Review of Personality and Social Psychology (Vol. 11). Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 1990, 98–119.
- The effects of the social environment on stress-related cardiovascular activation: Current findings, prospects, and implications
Annals of Behavioral Medicine
Volume 20, Issue 4 , pp 247-256
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Additional Links
- Industry Sectors