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Stress reactivity is the capacity or tendency to respond to a stressor. It is a disposition that underlies individual differences in responses to stressors and is assumed to be a vulnerability factor for the development of diseases.
People respond differently when exposed to the same stressor. Such differences can be observed in all four major stress response domains, namely, physiology, behavior, subjective experience, and cognitive function. Within the physiological domain, two response systems are of particular importance: cardiovascular responses (indicated by blood pressure and heart rate), driven by sympathetic nervous system (SNS) activity, and output of the glucocorticoid hormone cortisol from the adrenal cortex, driven by hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activity. Stress reactivity is assumed to be stable over time, i.e., persons showing high responses at an initial assessment also show high responses when the...