Social support coping style predicts women’s cortisol in the laboratory and daily life: the moderating role of social attentional biases

Michael R. Sladek, Leah Doane, Shannon L. Jewell, Linda Luecken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background and Objectives: Social stress and associated coping responses can profoundly influence women’s stress physiology and health. Implicit social attentional biases can also influence psychological and physiological stress responses. The purpose of this study was to explore whether a coping style characterized by greater use of social support predicts indices of cortisol activity in laboratory and daily life contexts among female university students. We hypothesized that the relation of this coping style to cortisol activity would be moderated by women’s attentional biases. Methods: Seventy-four women (Mage= 19.44, range: 17.8–27.8, 64% White) completed an interpersonal stress task and an attentional bias task in the lab, along with a self-report coping inventory. Participants provided five saliva samples during the lab protocol, followed by three saliva samples per day for three consecutive weekdays. Outcome measures included cortisol response to lab tasks (AUCg), diurnal cortisol slope, diurnal AUCg, and cortisol awakening response (CARi). Results: A coping style characterized by greater use of social support predicted lower lab AUCg and lower, flatter average diurnal cortisol slope for women with attentional avoidance compared to women with attentional vigilance (ps <.05). Conclusions: Responding to stress by using social support is linked to lower cortisol responses to social stress and diurnal cortisol activity for women with implicit avoidance of social threat cues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)66-81
Number of pages16
JournalAnxiety, Stress and Coping
Volume30
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2 2017

Keywords

  • Social support coping style
  • attentional bias
  • college women
  • cortisol response
  • diurnal cortisol
  • social stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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