Title page for ETD etd-06262003-143405

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Vella, Elizabeth Jane
Author's Email Address evella@vt.edu
URN etd-06262003-143405
Title The Autonomic Characteristics of Defensive Hostility: Reactivity and Recovery to Active and Passive Stressors
Degree Master of Science
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Friedman, Bruce H. Committee Chair
Cooper, Robin K. Panneton Committee Member
Harrison, David W. Committee Member
  • Cardiovascular Reactivity
  • Cold Pressor
  • Defensive Hostility
  • Recovery
Date of Defense 2003-04-16
Availability unrestricted
Defensive hostility has been attributed as an early risk factor of coronary heart disease. The autonomic characteristics of high defensive, high hostile (HD) and low defensive, high hostile (LD) men and women were assessed with a variety of cardiovascular (CV) measures. Reactivity and recovery to an active laboratory stressor (video game, VG) and a passive laboratory stressor (hand cold pressor, CP) of 15 HD men, 16 LD men, 16 HD women, and 16 LD women were recorded. It was predicted that the CV patterning associated with the HD participants would display more sympathetic and less vagal control as well as the least pronounced recovery from the stressors in comparison to LD participants. Results revealed differential CV responses to the lab tasks by group. HD women displayed consistently high levels of low frequency power heart rate variability (HRV) during baseline and across conditions. HD men exhibited significantly pronounced heart rate reactivity and reduced high frequency power HRV to the CP task in comparison to LD men. Interestingly, LD women displayed weaker blood pressure (BP) recovery to the VG in comparison to HD women, whereas the opposite pattern was observed in BP recovery to the CP. These results suggest that defensiveness and sex may moderate the CV reactivity and recovery to different types of stressors in hostile participants.
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