Annals of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 47, Issue 1, pp 111–119 | Cite as

Emotional Dampening in Persons with Elevated Blood Pressure: Affect Dysregulation and Risk for Hypertension

  • James A. McCubbinEmail author
  • James P. Loveless
  • Jack G. Graham
  • Gabrielle A. Hall
  • Ryan M. Bart
  • DeWayne D. Moore
  • Marcellus M. Merritt
  • Richard D. Lane
  • Julian F. Thayer
Original Article



Persons with higher blood pressure have emotional dampening in some contexts. This may reflect interactive changes in central nervous system control of affect and autonomic function in the early stages of hypertension development.


The purpose of this study is to determine the independence of cardiovascular emotional dampening from alexithymia to better understand the role of affect dysregulation in blood pressure elevations.


Ninety-six normotensives were assessed for resting systolic and diastolic (DBP) blood pressure, recognition of emotions in faces and sentences using the Perception of Affect Task (PAT), alexithymia, anxiety, and defensiveness.


Resting DBP significantly predicted PAT emotion recognition accuracy in men after adjustment for age, self-reported affect, and alexithymia.


Cardiovascular emotional dampening is independent of alexithymia and affect in men. Dampened emotion recognition could potentially influence interpersonal communication and psychosocial distress, thereby further contributing to BP dysregulation and increased cardiovascular risk.


Emotion recognition Blood pressure Hypertension development Central nervous system Stress Alexithymia Repressive coping Defensiveness 


Conflict of Interest

The authors have no conflict of interest to disclose.


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Copyright information

© The Society of Behavioral Medicine 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • James A. McCubbin
    • 1
    • 7
    Email author
  • James P. Loveless
    • 1
  • Jack G. Graham
    • 1
  • Gabrielle A. Hall
    • 2
  • Ryan M. Bart
    • 3
  • DeWayne D. Moore
    • 1
  • Marcellus M. Merritt
    • 4
  • Richard D. Lane
    • 5
  • Julian F. Thayer
    • 6
  1. 1.Clemson UniversityClemsonUSA
  2. 2.University of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  3. 3.Gonzaga UniversitySpokaneUSA
  4. 4.University of Wisconsin-MilwaukeeMilwaukeeUSA
  5. 5.University of ArizonaMaricopaUSA
  6. 6.Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  7. 7.Department of PsychologyClemson UniversityClemsonUSA

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