Format

Send to

Choose Destination
Sci Rep. 2018 Oct 18;8(1):15462. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-33708-0.

Interactions of momentary thought content and subjective stress predict cortisol fluctuations in a daily life experience sampling study.

Author information

1
Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Department of Social Neuroscience, 04103, Leipzig, Germany. linz@cbs.mpg.de.
2
Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Department of Social Neuroscience, 04103, Leipzig, Germany.

Abstract

Daily life stress is an omnipresent phenomenon in modern society. Research has linked prolonged activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis to psychiatric and somatic diseases. Everyday stressors substantially contribute to these health risks. Despite the notion that the physiological stress response is highly dependent on concurrent psychological processes, investigations associating diurnal cortisol levels with subjective experience have primarily focused on affective states. The impact of everyday cognitive processes including thought content has been largely neglected. To investigate this link, moment-to-moment associations of psychological experience including subjective stress, thought content and affect, and cortisol levels were assessed throughout the daily routines of 289 healthy adult participants. We found that subjective stress interacted with current thought content and affect in predicting cortisol release: more negative and future-directed thoughts were associated with higher cortisol levels after experiencing subjective stress, suggesting an increase in negative future anticipation. Concurrent cortisol rises might reflect proactive coping to adequately prepare for upcoming demands. In the absence of subjective stress, more past-directed thoughts and negative affect were associated with higher cortisol levels. These findings provide evidence for a fundamental link between thought content and daily cortisol activation, and highlight the significant contribution of thought patterns to physiological stress levels.

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center