Appraisal predicts hemodynamic reactivity in a naturalistic stressor

Ydwine Jieldouw Zanstra, Derek Johnston, Jon Rasbash

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Prior research has shown that appraisals are predictive of hemodynamic reaction patterns. The current study examined the relationship between appraisal and hemodynamic responding in a real-life stressful situation. Twenty-four men aged 19-28 wore a blood pressure monitor while presenting a paper in a class.

Participant's appraisal self-reports were obtained prior to the stressor. Multilevel regression models were used to analyze the relationships between appraisal and myocardial responding (as measured by cardiac output) and vascular resistance (as measured by TPR).

Pre-stressor appraisals were significantly associated with CO, both during the stressor (Z=2.03 p<.05) as well as during the 30-minute anticipation period preceding the stressor (Z=2.43 p<.01). In line with the predictions, relatively challenged participants showed higher CO. Pre-stressor appraisals significantly predicted TPR during anticipation (Z = 2.70 p<.01) but these associations failed to reach significance during the stressor (Z=1.82, n.s.). As was predicted, during anticipation, increased threat was associated with increased TPR. Thus, during the anticipation period prior to the stressor, increased challenge was associated with decreased vascular resistance and increased myocardial reactivity. Further, increased threat was associated with increased vascular resistance and decreased myocardial reactivity. During the stressor increases in challenge were associated with further increases in myocardial responding but relationships between appraisal and vascular resistance were not significant.

The current study shows that the relationship between appraisal and hemodynamic reactivity seen in laboratory studies are also present during naturally occurring stress. Our findings suggest that threat appraisals to naturalistic stressors contribute to an, arguably unhealthy, vascular reaction pattern.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-42
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Psychophysiology
Issue number1
Early online date24 Apr 2010
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2010


  • ambulatory
  • hemodynamic
  • appraisal
  • portapres
  • naturalistic
  • stress
  • cardiac output
  • total peripheral resistance
  • to-life generalizability
  • cardiovascular reactivity
  • blood-pressure
  • individual-differences
  • psychological stress
  • challenge appraisal
  • threat
  • responses
  • disease
  • patterns
  • Adult
  • attention
  • blood pressure
  • employee performance
  • hemodynamics
  • humans
  • male
  • predictive value of tests
  • young adult


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