Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback

, Volume 44, Issue 4, pp 321–330 | Cite as

Social Context and Sex Moderate the Association Between Type D Personality and Cardiovascular Reactivity

  • Adam O’ RiordanEmail author
  • Siobhán Howard
  • Stephen Gallagher


Type D personality has been consistently associated with adverse cardiovascular health with atypical cardiovascular reactions to psychological stress one plausible underlying mechanism. However, whether this varies by sex and social context has received little attention. This study examined the interaction between Type D personality, sex and social context on cardiovascular reactivity to acute stress. A sample of 76 healthy undergraduate students (47 female) completed the DS14 Type D measure, before undergoing a traditional cardiovascular reactivity protocol. The social context of the laboratory environment was manipulated to create a social and non-social context using a between-subjects design. Systolic blood pressure (SBP), diastolic blood pressure (DBP) and heart rate (HR) were monitored throughout. No associations were evident for blood pressure. However, a significant personality × sex × social context interaction on HR reactivity was found; here Type D was associated with a higher HR response to the social task amongst males but not females, while Type D females typically exhibited blunted reactions. While these atypical reactions indicate a possible psychophysiological pathway leading to adverse cardiovascular events amongst Type Ds, it appears that Type D males are particularly vulnerable to socially based stressors, exhibiting exaggerated cardiovascular reactions.


Type D personality Cardiovascular reactivity Stress Biological sex Social context 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Centre for Social Issues Research, Study of Anxiety, Stress and Health LaboratoryUniversity of LimerickLimerickIreland
  2. 2.Health Research InstituteUniversity of LimerickLimerickIreland

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