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Acute Stressors and Cortisol Responses: A Theoretical Integration and Synthesis of Laboratory Research

Acute Stressors and Cortisol Responses: A Theoretical Integration and Synthesis of Laboratory... This meta-analysis reviews 208 laboratory studies of acute psychological stressors and tests a theoretical model delineating conditions capable of eliciting cortisol responses. Psychological stressors increased cortisol levels; however, effects varied widely across tasks. Consistent with the theoretical model, motivated performance tasks elicited cortisol responses if they were uncontrollable or characterized by social-evaluative threat (task performance could be negatively judged by others), when methodological factors and other stressor characteristics were controlled for. Tasks containing both uncontrollable and social-evaluative elements were associated with the largest cortisol and adrenocorticotropin hormone changes and the longest times to recovery. These findings are consistent with the animal literature on the physiological effects of uncontrollable social threat and contradict the belief that cortisol is responsive to all types of stressors. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Psychological Bulletin American Psychological Association

Acute Stressors and Cortisol Responses: A Theoretical Integration and Synthesis of Laboratory Research

Psychological Bulletin , Volume 130 (3): 37 – May 1, 2004

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Publisher
American Psychological Association
Copyright
Copyright © 2004 American Psychological Association
ISSN
0033-2909
eISSN
1939-1455
DOI
10.1037/0033-2909.130.3.355
pmid
15122924
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This meta-analysis reviews 208 laboratory studies of acute psychological stressors and tests a theoretical model delineating conditions capable of eliciting cortisol responses. Psychological stressors increased cortisol levels; however, effects varied widely across tasks. Consistent with the theoretical model, motivated performance tasks elicited cortisol responses if they were uncontrollable or characterized by social-evaluative threat (task performance could be negatively judged by others), when methodological factors and other stressor characteristics were controlled for. Tasks containing both uncontrollable and social-evaluative elements were associated with the largest cortisol and adrenocorticotropin hormone changes and the longest times to recovery. These findings are consistent with the animal literature on the physiological effects of uncontrollable social threat and contradict the belief that cortisol is responsive to all types of stressors.

Journal

Psychological BulletinAmerican Psychological Association

Published: May 1, 2004

References