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Pers Soc Psychol Rev. 2008 Nov;12(4):370-89. doi: 10.1177/1088868308323224.

Self-esteem and autonomic physiology: parallels between self-esteem and cardiac vagal tone as buffers of threat.

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University of Canterbury, Psychology Department, Christchurch, New Zealand.


In this article a potential physiological connection to self-esteem is suggested: cardiac vagal tone, the degree of influence on the heart by the vagus, a primary nerve of the parasympathetic nervous system. This hypothesis emerges from parallels between the two literatures that suggest both self-esteem and cardiac vagal tone function to provide protection from threat responding. This article reviews these literatures and evidence and preliminary findings that suggest in some contexts self-esteem and cardiac vagal tone may exert an influence on each other. Last, the article discusses theoretical and applied health implications of this potential physiological connection to self-esteem.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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