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Brain Behav Immun. 2009 Jan;23(1):1-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2008.08.008. Epub 2008 Sep 10.

Psychobiological responses to social threat: evolution of a psychological model in psychoneuroimmunology.

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  • 1Health Psychology Program, Department of Psychiatry, University of California San Francisco School of Medicine, 3333 California Street, Suite 465, San Francisco, CA 94143-0848, USA.


There exists a bidirectional network of interactions between the central nervous system, the endocrine system and the immune system. The existence of these pathways allows stressful life experience to impact the immune system with important implications for health. One powerful elicitor of changes in the autonomic, endocrine and immune systems is threat to social status. This review describes the development of a human model of social status threat that specifies a set of contextual, psychological and biological pathways that may underlie the health consequences of threats to social status and regard. The role of cognitive processes in shaping the physiological response to the social world will be emphasized.

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