Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

Living Edition
| Editors: Marc Gellman

Hostility, Cynical

  • Susan A. Everson-Rose
  • Priya Balaji
  • Xiaohui Yu
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6439-6_255-2



Hostility is a relatively stable personality trait typically characterized as a multidimensional construct with significant affective (e.g., anger), cognitive (e.g., attitudes), and behavioral (e.g., aggression) components. Hostile individuals have a suspicious, mistrustful attitude and often disparaging view of others and generally have a cynical worldview of their environment and social interactions. Thus, this type of personality disposition is often referred to “cynical hostility.”


An expansive literature on personality and disease processes and health risks has developed over the past 50–60 years. Hostility has featured prominently in this literature, particularly with regard to cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk (Miller et al. 1996; Everson-Rose and Lewis 2005). Though some negative studies have been reported, on balance, the available evidence from methodologically strong, population-based studies...

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References and Further Reading

  1. Barefoot, J. C., Dodge, K. A., Peterson, B. L., Dahlstrom, W. G., & Williams, R. B., Jr. (1989). The Cook-Medley hostility scale: Item contact and ability to predict survival. Psychosomatic Medicine, 51, 46–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barefoot, J. C., Dodge, K. A., Dahlstrom, W. G., Siegler, I. C., Anderson, N. B., & Williams, R. B., Jr. (1991). Hostility patterns and health implications: Correlates of Cook-Medley Hostility Scale scores in a national survey contact and ability to predict survival. Health Psychology, 10, 18–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barnes, L. L., Mendes de Leon, C. F., Bienias, J. L., Wilson, R. S., Everson-Rose, S. A., & Evans, D. A. (2009). Hostility and change in cognitive functions over time in older blacks and whites. Psychosomatic Medicine, 71, 652–658.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Demarble, J. B., Moskowitz, D. S., Tardif, J., & Antono, B. D. (2014). The relation between hostility and concurrent levels of inflammation is sex, age, and measure dependent. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 76, 384–393.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Everson, S. A., Kauhanen, J., Kaplan, G. A., Goldberg, D. E., Julkunen, J., Tuomilehto, J., et al. (1997). Hostility and increased risk of mortality and acute myocardial infarction: The mediating role of behavioral risk factors. American Journal of Epidemiology, 146, 142–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Everson-Rose, S. A., & Lewis, T. T. (2005). Psychosocial factors and cardiovascular diseases. Annual Review of Public Health, 26, 469–500.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Graham, J. E., Robles, T. F., Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K., Malarkey, W. B., Bissell, M. G., & Glaser, R. (2006). Hostility and pain are related to inflammation in older adults. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 20, 389–400.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Hemingway, H., & Marmot, M. (1999). Evidence based cardiology: Psychosocial factors in the aetiology and prognosis of coronary heart disease. Systematic review of prospective cohort studies. British Medical Journal, 318, 1460–1467.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Kubzansky, L. D., Sparrow, D., Jackson, B., Cohen, S., Weiss, S. T., & Wright, R. J. (2006). Angry breathing: A prospective study of hostility and lung function in the Normative Aging Study. Thorax, 61, 863–868.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Lemogne, C., Levenstein, S., Nabi, H., Ducimetière, P., Goldberg, M., & Zins, M. (2015). Hostility and the risk of peptic ulcer in the GAZEL cohort. Health Psychology, 34, 181–185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Miller, T. Q., Smith, T. W., Turner, C. W., Guijarro, M. L., & Hallet, A. J. (1996). A metaanalytic review of research on hostility and physical health. Psychological Bulletin, 119, 322–348.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Niaura, R., Todaro, J. F., Stroud, L., Spiro, A., 3rd, Ward, K. D., & Weiss, S. (2002). Hostility, the metabolic syndrome, and incident coronary heart disease. Health Psychology, 21, 588–593.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Shen, B. J., Countryman, A. J., Spiro, A., 3rd, & Niaura, R. (2008). The prospective contribution of hostility characteristics to high fasting glucose levels: The moderating role of marital status. Diabetes Care, 31, 1293–1298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Versey, H. S., & Kaplan, G. A. (2012). Mediation and moderation of the association between cynical hostility and systolic blood pressure in low-income women. Health Education & Behavior, 39, 219–228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media LLC 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan A. Everson-Rose
    • 1
  • Priya Balaji
    • 1
  • Xiaohui Yu
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Medicine and Program in Health Disparities ResearchUniversity of Minnesota Medical SchoolMinneapolisUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Mustafa al’Absi
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Minnesota Medical SchoolDuluthUSA