Psychological correlates of salivary cortisol secretion among unemployed men and women

  • Giorgio Grossi
  • Anna Åhs
  • Ulf Lundberg


The aim of the present study was to examine the association between psychological factors and salivary cortisol secretion (baseline level, reactivity to laboratory stressors) in a sample of 59 long-term unemployed men and women (mean age 42±10 years). Subjects were divided into four groups according to their basal levels of salivary cortisol as well as their reactivity to experimental stress (stress level minus baseline): (1) low base/low reactivity; (2) high base/low reactivity; (3) low base/high reactivity; and (4) high base/high reactivity. The low base/low reactivity group was characterized by significantly higher somatic anxiety, muscular tension, irritability, and depression (Beck’s Depression Inventory) and lower perceived control (mastery) than the other groups. The low base/high reactivity group was also characterized by depression and low perceived control. The high base/low reactivity group was higher in terms of monotony avoidance, Type-A behavior (JAS) and mastery, but lower in depression. The results indicate that (1) individuals with personality traits reflecting emotional distress are more vulnerable to exhaustion of the HPA-axis following long-term unemployment and (2) monotony avoidance and Type-A behavior, at least temporarily, seem to exert a beneficial influence on mental well-being among long-term unemployed individuals.


Cortisol Cortisol Response Salivary Cortisol Cortisol Reactivity Basal Cortisol Level 
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Copyright information

© Springer 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giorgio Grossi
    • 1
    • 2
  • Anna Åhs
    • 2
  • Ulf Lundberg
    • 2
  1. 1.Karolinska InstituteStockholmSweden
  2. 2.Biological Psychology DivisionStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden

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