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Int J Psychophysiol. 2009 Jun;72(3):253-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2009.01.003. Epub 2009 Jan 15.

Hostility and anger in: cardiovascular reactivity and recovery to mental arithmetic stress.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Southern Maine, 96 Falmouth St., Portland, ME 04104, USA.



Hostility and anger have been attributed as psychosocial risk factors for coronary heart disease. Heightened cardiovascular reactivity (CVR), and poor recovery, to provocative stressors are thought to hasten this risk.


To examine the relationship between hostility and anger inhibition (AI), and the moderating situational influences of harassment and evaluation, in predicting CVR and recovery to mental arithmetic (MA) stress using a multiple regression approach.


48 male undergraduate students engaged in the following 3 minute tasks during recording of the electrocardiogram, impedance cardiography, and blood pressure: baseline, MA, and evaluation. Hostility and AI were assessed with the Cook-Medley Hostility Scale and the Speilberger Anger In subscale, respectively.


An interaction between hostility and AI showed high diastolic blood pressure reactivity to the MA task among hostile anger inhibitors. Harassment did not modify this effect. However, harasser evaluation predicted prolonged systolic blood pressure (SBP) responding among men scoring high in AI, and facilitated SBP recovery among those scoring low on AI.


The findings highlight the interactive influences of AI and hostility in predicting CVR to stress and underscore the importance of recovery assessments in understanding the potentially pathogenic associations of these constructs.

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