Because of the impact of stress on health, it is important to understand the variables that underlie cardiovascular reactivity to stress because it may lead to more focused targets of intervention for helping people to reduce or otherwise better manage their stress. The purpose of the present study was to answer the following questions: does lack of eudaimonic well-being (a combination of psychological and social well-being) predict increased cardiovascular reactivity to stress in a clinically distressed population? And does increased eudaimonic well-being protect against increased cardiovascular reactivity to stress when hedonic well-being (a combination of positive affect and life satisfaction) is low and depression and stress are high? If so, then it may be possible to reduce the effects of stress on health even if depression and stress are present. One hundred twenty-nine college students (ages 18-29) who were clinically distressed were administered a questionnaire that included questions about demographic variables and measures of hedonic and eudaimonic well-being, depression, and general perceived stress. After answering the questionnaire, a baseline reading of cardiovascular activity was taken. After the baseline reading, participants were subjected to the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST), an interpersonal stressor that consists of an anticipation period, a speech, and a math task. Measurements of cardiovascular activity were taken throughout the TSST. I predicted that lower levels of eudaimonic and hedonic well-being, mental health, and higher amounts of general perceived stress would predict increased cardiovascular reactivity to the TSST as measured by systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, and heart rate. Then, should the prior hypothesis be true, I predicted that higher eudaimonic well-being will suppress the effect of lower hedonic will-being, lower mental health, and higher general perceived stress on cardiovascular activity to acute stress. Results of the study found no effect of eudaimonic well-being, hedonic well-being, depression, and general perceived stress on cardiovascular reactivity during the TSST. The results suggest that there is no relationship between well-being, depression, and general perceived stress and cardiovascular reactivity to stress in a young college student population.
College and Department
Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Psychology
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Fox, Sheilagh, "Well-Being and Physiological Reactivity to Stress" (2018). All Theses and Dissertations. 6715.
eudaimonic well-being, hedonic well-being, depression, general perceived stress, acute stress, cardiovascular reactivity