Exploring heart and soul: Effects of religiosity/spirituality and gender on blood pressure and cortisol stress responses

Jessica Tartaro, Linda Luecken, Heather E. Gunn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

78 Scopus citations


The current study investigated gender effects on the influence of self-reported religiosity and spirituality on cardiovascular and cortisol responses to a laboratory stressor among young adults. Participants with higher composite religiosity/spirituality scores, religiosity, levels of forgiveness and frequency of prayer showed lower cortisol responses. Greater composite religiosity/spirituality, religiosity, frequency of prayer and attendance at services were associated with lower blood pressure in males and elevated blood pressure in females. Findings suggest that spiritual and/or religious individuals may experience a protective effect against the neuroendocrine consequences of stress, though cardiovascular benefits may vary by gender. This work represents an important step in the convergence of multiple realms of research by linking physiological measures with indicators of individual belief systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)753-766
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Health Psychology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2005



  • Cardiovascular
  • Cortisol
  • Reactivity
  • Religiosity
  • Spirituality
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Clinical Psychology

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