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Horm Behav. 2018 Oct 19;106:112-121. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2018.10.006. [Epub ahead of print]

Interdependent self-construal, social evaluative threat and subjective, cardiovascular and neuroendocrine stress response in Chinese.

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Faculty of Psychology, Southwest University, Chongqing, China.
Department of Psychology, University of Constance, Constance, Germany.
Faculty of Psychology, Southwest University, Chongqing, China. Electronic address:


Interdependent self-construal (ISC) is a concept positing that people define their self through social roles and relationships with others. We investigated in two independent studies whether ISC had an effect on psychological and endocrine stress responses. Study 1 collected data of 295 healthy young Chinese participants' subjective report of ISC using the self-construal scale, and daily levels of stress using the daily stress inventory. Correlational analyses showed that individuals with higher ISC perceived higher levels of stress in daily life. Study 2 added biological measures of stress by analyzing both basal cortisol levels and reactive cortisol level of high/low ISC individuals (23 high and 23 low ISC healthy young Chinese participants recruited from a total of 440 participants), in response to the Trier Social Stress test. Participants with high ISC showed higher cortisol stress responses, higher heart rate measurements, and higher subjective stress reports when compared to low ISC participants. Further analyses suggested that participants' perception of social evaluative threat mediated the association between ISC and the cortisol stress response. Taken together, these findings suggest a significant role of ISC in regulating the biological and psychological stress response. These findings are discussed in the context of other personality factors known to affect the stress response, and the cultural-related self-construal literature. We also discuss the possible application of the ISC personality factor for future stress studies.


Culture; Interdependent self-construal; Psychological stress; Trier social stress test

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