Effort and negative affect interact to predict cardiovascular responses to stress

Clayton J. Hilmert, North Dakota State University
Ai Ni Teoh, North Dakota State University
Michael M. Roy, Elizabethtown College


Objective: Although traditional models posit that negative emotional responses to stress increase cardiovascular reactivity (CVR), laboratory studies have generally not found a strong emotion-CVR association. In this paper, we took a multidimensional approach to examining psychological reactions to stress in three studies.Methods: In each study we assessed the amount of effort exerted by a participant and the negative affect (NA) felt by the participant with different self-reported measures and an effort behavioural measure.Results: Our findings consistently demonstrated that NA was associated with CVR when effort was relatively high, but not when effort was relatively low.Conclusion: This suggests that the weak NA-CVR correlations reported in past research may have been confounded by a third effort-related variable and that CVR is significantly associated with NA under certain circumstances. Furthermore, our findings suggest that by considering the multidimensional nature of psychological responses to stress, we may come to better understand the links between stress-related emotion and physiology. © 2013 Taylor & Francis.