Rumination, fear, and cortisol

An in vivo study of interpersonal transgressions

Michael McCullough, Paul Orsulak, Anna Brandon, Linda Akers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

82 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The authors sought to examine whether rumination about psychologically painful, though nontraumatic, interpersonal transgressions is associated with increased salivary cortisol. They measured salivary cortisol, rumination about a transgression, fear and anger regarding the transgressor, perceived painfulness of the transgression, and positive and negative mood in 115 undergraduates who had experienced an interpersonal transgression during the previous 7 days. They obtained measurements on as many as 5 occasions separated by approximately 14 days each. On occasions when participants reported that they had been ruminating to a degree that was greater than was typical for them, they had higher levels of salivary cortisol than was typical for them. The rumination- cortisol association appeared to be mediated by fear of the transgressor. Rumination about even moderately painful but nontraumatic life events and associated emotions are related to biological changes that may subserve social goals such as avoiding social threats. Items from the rumination scale are appended.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126-132
Number of pages7
JournalHealth Psychology
Volume26
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2007

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Fear
Hydrocortisone
Anger
Emotions

Keywords

  • Cortisol
  • Emotion
  • Fear
  • Hierarchical linear modeling
  • Rumination
  • Transgressions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Psychology(all)

Cite this

Rumination, fear, and cortisol : An in vivo study of interpersonal transgressions. / McCullough, Michael; Orsulak, Paul; Brandon, Anna; Akers, Linda.

In: Health Psychology, Vol. 26, No. 1, 01.01.2007, p. 126-132.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

McCullough, Michael ; Orsulak, Paul ; Brandon, Anna ; Akers, Linda. / Rumination, fear, and cortisol : An in vivo study of interpersonal transgressions. In: Health Psychology. 2007 ; Vol. 26, No. 1. pp. 126-132.
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