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Unformatted text preview: Research Report Affirmation of Personal Values Buffers Neuroendocrine and Psychological Stress Responses J. David Creswell, 1 William T. Welch, 1 Shelley E. Taylor, 1 David K. Sherman, 2 Tara L. Gruenewald, 1 and Traci Mann 1 1 University of California, Los Angeles, and 2 University of California, Santa Barbara ABSTRACT— Stress is implicated in the development and progression of a broad array of mental and physical health disorders. Theory and research on the self suggest that self-affirming activities may buffer these adverse effects. This study experimentally investigated whether affirma- tions of personal values attenuate physiological and psychological stress responses. Eighty-five participants completed either a value-affirmation task or a control task prior to participating in a laboratory stress challenge. Participants who affirmed their values had significantly lower cortisol responses to stress, compared with control participants. Dispositional self-resources (e.g., trait self- esteem and optimism) moderated the relation between value affirmation and psychological stress responses, such that participants who had high self-resources and had affirmed personal values reported the least stress. These findings suggest that reflecting on personal values can keep neuroendocrine and psychological responses to stress at low levels. Implications for research on the self, stress processes, health, and interventions are discussed. Stress is implicated in the development and progression of a broad array of pathological conditions. These include psycho- logical disorders, such as depression and anxiety (Alonso et al., 2004; La Via et al., 1996), as well as medical disorders, in- cluding coronary heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes (McEwen & Seeman, 1999). Although not all the mechanisms connecting stress to these outcomes are known, chronic threats can affect the functioning of the body’s stress systems, namely, the sympathetic-adrenomedullary (SAM) axis and the hypo- thalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis, in ways prog- nostic for or related to these disorders (McEwen, 1998). In response to threat, the SAM system coordinates the release of catecholamines, triggering increases in heart rate and blood pressure, among other changes, and the HPA axis coordinates the release of glucocorticoids, including cortisol. Although ac- tivation of these stress systems facilitates short-term fight-or- flight responses to threats, prolonged or recurrent activation can compromise the resilience of these systems, laying the ground- work for chronic mental and physical health disorders (McEwen, 1998). Accordingly, identifying resources that mute the psy- chological and biological impact of stress is an important re- search priority with implications for mental and physical health....
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This note was uploaded on 10/24/2011 for the course HLTH 100 taught by Professor Jeleciamiller during the Fall '11 term at Emory.
- Fall '11
- The Land