Are Large Physiological Reactions to Acute Psychological Stress Always Bad for Health?
Article first published online: 14 JUL 2009
© 2009 The Authors. Journal Compilation © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Social and Personality Psychology Compass
Volume 3, Issue 5, pages 725–743, September 2009
How to Cite
Carroll, D., Lovallo, W. R. and Phillips, A. C. (2009), Are Large Physiological Reactions to Acute Psychological Stress Always Bad for Health?. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 3: 725–743. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-9004.2009.00205.x
- Issue published online: 23 SEP 2009
- Article first published online: 14 JUL 2009
How we react physiologically to stress has long been considered to have implications for our health. There is now persuasive evidence that individuals who show large cardiovascular reactions to stress are at increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, particularly hypertension. By implication, low reactivity is protective or benign. However, there is recent evidence that low reactivity may predict elevated risk for a range of adverse health outcomes, such as depression, obesity, poor self-reported health and compromised immunity. In addition, low cortisol and cardiovascular reactivity may be a characteristic of individuals with addictions to tobacco and alcohol, as well as those at risk of addiction and those who relapse from abstinence. Our ideas about reactivity may have to be revised in the light of such findings.