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J Psychosom Res. 1992 May;36(4):371-81.

The effect of social support and physical touch on cardiovascular reactions to mental stress.

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Department of Psychology, West Virginia University, Morgantown 26506.


To examine the effects of social support on cardiovascular reactions to behavioral stress, the present study tested the relative contribution of three elements of social support: the presence of another person in the laboratory; the presence of a person considered to be a friend; and physical touch. Sixty undergraduate females were assigned to one of the following groups: alone (A); friend present-touch (FT); friend present-no touch (FNT); stranger present-touch (ST); and stranger present-no touch (SNT). Heart rate (HR), systolic blood pressure (SBP), and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) measures were obtained across baseline phases and during presentation of two behavioral challenges (mental arithmetic, mirror-tracing). The findings suggest that neither the presence of a stranger nor physical touch are related to attenuated cardiovascular reactions to stress; rather, if the extent of cardiovascular reactivity is related to social support, the presence of a friend may be the important mediating variable.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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