, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 172-191

Effect of trait hostility on cardiovascular responses to harassment in young men

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Abstract

Hostile individuals may experience more extreme and frequent episodes of anger than nonhostile persons and thus may have exaggerated physiological responses to their environments. Such responses may be associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease. This study examined cardiovascular responses of 24 low-versus 21 high-hostile young men to a mental arithmetic task administered with and without provocation in a 2 x 2 (Groups x Tasks) repeated measure design. Hostility classifications were based on weighted interview ratings of Potential for Hostility. As predicted, high-hostile men showed differentially greater heart rate, blood pressure, and rate-pressure product changes only in response to the task administered with harassment (ps > .05). Similarly, high-hostile men reported more distress, tenseness, irritation, and greater concentration during the harassing task, compared to low-hostile men (ps > .051) Also, the harassing task elicited greater increases in vascular resistance and greater decreases in stroke volume for all subjects, relative to the neutral task (ps> .003). Results suggest that hostile persons faced with anger-evoking situations may produce a constellation of exaggerated cognitive-emotional and cardiovascular responses consistent with increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

This article was supported by the Medical Research Service of the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.