The stability of and intercorrelations among cardiovascular, immune, endocrine, and psychological reactivity

One hundred fifteen college students were exposed to an evaluative speech task twice, separated by 2 weeks. At both sessions, we assessed cardiovascular, endocrine, immune, and psychological response at baseline and during the task. We found stability across sessions for stress-induced increases in anxiety and task engagement, heart rate, blood pressure, norpinephrine (but not epinephrine), cortisol, natural killer cell cytotoxicity, and numbers of circulating CD3+, CD8+, and CD56+ (but not CD4+ or CD19+) lymphocytes. The stable cardiovascular, immune, and endocrine reactivities were intercorrelated, providing evidence of a unified physiological stress response across these outcomes. Although stable stress-induced increases in task engagement were associated with the physiological stress responses, stress-induced anxiety was not.

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