Recent Developments in the Study of Cardiovascular Reactivity: Contributions from Psychometric Theory and Social Psychology


  • Thomas W. Kamarck

    1. University of Pittsburgh, Department of Psychology
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    • Address requests for reprints to: Thomas W. Kamarck, Psychology Department. University of Pittsburgh, 4015 O'Hara Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15260.

  • Preparation of this report was supported by U.S. Public Health Service Grants HL07560 and HL41340–02 (awarded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute). Portions of these data were presented at the annual meetings of the Society for Psychophysiological Research: New Orleans, October 1989, and Chicago, October 1991; and at the annual meetings of the Society of Behavioral Medicine: San Francisco, April 1989, and Washington, DC, March 1991.

  • I gratefully acknowledge the collegial support of J. Richard Jennings. Ph.D., and Stephen B. Manuck, Ph.D., as well as the dedicated assistance of Tom Debski, Chris Stewart. Ellen Glickman-Weiss, Michael Eddy, Larry Young, Yaxi Zhang, and Paul Johnson.


Two related ongoing research programs are described. The first examines optimal measurement strategies for assessing individual differences in cardiovascular reactivity, and the second investigates the effects of the social environment as a moderator of cardiovascular responding during psychological challenge. Models and evidence from related behavioral sciences (Psychometric Theory and Social Psychology, respectively) have provided useful guidance for this work. Relevant background and current data examining the measurement and determinants of cardiovascular reactivity are reviewed, with a focus on these multidisciplinary contributions. The implications of the work for the construct of reactivity and its possible role as a marker of disease risk are discussed.