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Int J Psychophysiol. 2015 Nov;98(2 Pt 1):213-21. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2015.09.002. Epub 2015 Sep 5.

Optimism and pessimism are related to different components of the stress response in healthy older people.

Author information

1
Department of Psychobiology and IDOCAL, Laboratory of Social Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain. Electronic address: sara.puig@uv.es.
2
Department of Psychobiology and IDOCAL, Laboratory of Social Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain.

Abstract

Some personality traits have key importance for health because they can affect the maintenance and evolution of different disorders with a high prevalence in older people, including stress pathologies and diseases. In this study we investigated how two relevant personality traits, optimism and pessimism, affect the psychophysiological response of 72 healthy participants (55 to 76 years old) exposed to either a psychosocial stress task (Trier Social Stress Test, TSST) or a control task; salivary cortisol, heart rate (HR) and situational appraisal were measured. Our results showed that optimism was related to faster cortisol recovery after exposure to stress. Pessimism was not related to the physiological stress response, but it was associated with the perception of the stress task as more difficult. Thus, higher optimism was associated with better physiological adjustment to a stressful situation, while higher pessimism was associated with worse psychological adjustment to stress. These results highlight different patterns of relationships, with optimism playing a more important role in the physiological component of the stress response, and pessimism having a greater effect on situational appraisal.

KEYWORDS:

Aging; Optimism; Pessimism; Stress response

PMID:
26348260
DOI:
10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2015.09.002
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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