An exacerbated physiological response to stress is associated with the development of stress-related disorders (e.g., depression and anxiety disorders). Recently, it has been proposed that individuals with high expectancies of being able to deal with stressful situations will activate regulatory mechanisms during the anticipation of the stressful event that would improve stress regulation. To test this hypothesis, 52 women in young adulthood (M = 21.06; SD = 2.58) anticipated and performed a laboratory-based stress task after receiving positive or negative feedback on their abilities to deal with stressful events. Heart rate variability and salivary cortisol were assessed throughout the experimental protocol. Participants receiving positive feedback (i.e., High Expectancy group) showed a more positive anticipatory cognitive stress appraisal (i.e., they anticipated the stress task as less threatening/challenging, and they perceived that they were more able to deal with it), and they showed a lower cortisol response to stress. Moreover, a more positive anticipatory cognitive stress appraisal was associated with better anticipatory stress regulation (indexed as less decrease in heart rate variability), leading to a lower cortisol response. Our results indicate that people with positive expectancy initiate mechanisms of anticipatory stress regulation that enhance the regulation of the physiological stress response. Expectancy and anticipatory stress regulation may be key mechanisms in the development and treatment of stress-related disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104587
JournalHormones and Behavior
Volume117
Early online date2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020

    Research areas

  • Anticipation, Cortisol, Expectancy, HRV, Stress, TSST

ID: 47929118