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Soc Neurosci. 2013;8(4):385-96. doi: 10.1080/17470919.2013.795500. Epub 2013 May 17.

Friendship network position and salivary cortisol levels.

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T Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-3701, USA.


We employed a social network analysis approach to examine the associations between friendship network position and cortisol levels. The sample consisted of 74 first-year students (93% female, ages 22-38 years, M = 27) from a highly competitive, accelerated Nursing program. Participants completed questionnaires online, and the entire group met at one time to complete a series of sociometric nominations and donated a saliva sample. Saliva was later assayed for cortisol. Metrics derived from directed friendship nominations indexed each student's friendship network status regarding popularity, gregariousness, and degree of interconnectedness. Results revealed that (1) individuals with lower gregariousness status (i.e., lowest number of outgoing ties) had higher cortisol levels, and (2) individuals with higher popularity status (i.e., higher numbers of incoming ties) had higher cortisol levels. Popularity and gregariousness-based network status is significantly associated with hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activity. Implications for prevailing theories of the social determinants of individual differences in biological sensitivity and susceptibility to context are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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