Get access

Salivary alpha-amylase and cortisol among pentecostals on a worship and nonworship day

Authors

  • Christopher Dana Lynn,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Anthropology, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama
    • Department of Anthropology, University of Alabama, Box 870210, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Jason Paris,

    1. Department of Psychology, The University at Albany-SUNY, Albany, New York
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Cheryl Anne Frye,

    1. Department of Psychology, The University at Albany-SUNY, Albany, New York
    2. Department of Biology, The University at Albany-SUNY, Albany, New York
    3. Center for Neuroscience Research, The University at Albany-SUNY, Albany, New York
    4. Center for Life Sciences Research, The University at Albany-SUNY, Albany, New York
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Lawrence M. Schell

    1. Department of Anthropology, The University at Albany-SUNY, Albany, New York
    2. Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, The University at Albany-SUNY, Albany, New York
    Search for more papers by this author

Abstract

Objectives

This investigation used a biomarker of sympathetic nervous system activity novel to biocultural research to test the hypothesis that engaging in religious worship activities would reduce baseline stress levels on a non-worship day among Pentecostals.

Methods

As detailed in Lynn et al. (submitted for publication), stress was measured via salivary cortisol and α-amylase among 52 Apostolic Pentecostals in New York's mid-Hudson Valley. Saliva samples were collected at four predetermined times on consecutive Sundays and Mondays to establish diurnal profiles and compare days of worship and non-worship. These data were reanalyzed using separate analyses of covariance on α-amylase and cortisol to control for individual variation in Pentecostal behavior, effects of Sunday biomarkers on Monday, and other covariates.

Results

There was a significant decrease in cortisol and an increase in α-amylase on a non-worship day compared with a service day. Models including engagement in Pentecostal worship behavior explained 62% of the change in non-service day cortisol and 73% of the change in non-service day α-amylase.

Conclusions

Engagement in Pentecostal worship may be associated with reductions in circulatory cortisol and enhancements in α-amylase activity. Am. J. Hum. Biol., 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Ancillary