Interactive Effects of Caffeine Consumption and Stressful Circumstances on Components of Stress: Caffeine Makes Men Less, But Women More Effective as Partners Under Stress

Authors

  • Lindsay St. Claire,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Experimental Psychology
      University of Bristol
      Bristol, UK
      Lindsay St. Claire, Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Bristol, 8 Woodland Road, Bristol, UK BS8 1TN. E-mail: L.StClaire@bristol.ac.uk
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    • This research was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (Grant #R022 25 0201). The authors thank Rebecca Thompson and Sarah Barcock for the collaborative memory task; Evert van de Vliert for the negotiation task; and Jim Harriman and Jack and Harry Telfer St. Claire for the psychomotor task. The authors would also like to dedicate this research to celebrate the life of John Barrett, inspirational psychologist and teacher.

  • Robert C. Hayward,

    1. Department of Experimental Psychology
      University of Bristol
      Bristol, UK
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  • Peter J. Rogers

    1. Department of Experimental Psychology
      University of Bristol
      Bristol, UK
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Lindsay St. Claire, Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Bristol, 8 Woodland Road, Bristol, UK BS8 1TN. E-mail: L.StClaire@bristol.ac.uk

Abstract

We tested whether increased caffeine consumption exacerbates stress and disrupts team performance, and we explored whether “tend and befriend” characterizes women's coping. We gave decaffeinated coffees, half of which contained added caffeine, to coffee drinkers in same-sex, same-aged dyads. We measured individual cognitive appraisals, emotional feelings, bodily symptoms, coping, and performance evaluations, together with dyad memory, psychomotor performance, and negotiation skills under higher or lower stressful conditions. Evidence consistent with the first hypothesis was weak, but we found that women performed better than did men on collaborative tasks under stress, provided caffeine had been consumed. The usefulness of multi component, cognitive-relational approaches to studying the effects of caffeine on stress is discussed, together with special implications of the effects for men.

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