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Psychophysiology. 2011 Apr;48(4):441-52. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8986.2010.01118.x. Epub 2010 Aug 18.

Stressed out? Associations between perceived and physiological stress responses in adolescents: the TRAILS study.

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Interdisciplinary Center for Psychiatric Epidemiology and Graduate School of Behavioral and Cognitive Neurosciences and for Health Research, University Medical Center, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands.


Studies regarding the interrelation of perceived and physiological stress indices have shown diverging results. Using a population sample of adolescents (N=715, 50.9% girls, mean age 16.11 years, SD=0.59), we tested three hypotheses: (1) perceived responses during social stress covary with concurrent physiological stress responses; (2) high pretest levels of perceived stress predict large physiological responses; and (3) large physiological responses to social stress predict low posttest perceived stress levels. Perceived arousal, unpleasantness, and dominance were related to heart rate, respiratory sinus arrhythmia, and cortisol responses to a laboratory social stress test. Although effect sizes were small, the results suggest covariation of perceived stress and concurrent physiological stress responses in both the ANS and the HPA axis, as well as inverse associations between heart rate responsiveness and the subsequent appraisal of stress.

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