OBJECTIVES: Traditionally, it has been hypothesized that highly anxious/emotionally reactive subjects may have exaggerated social stress response. We examined the relationship between self-reported anxiety, emotional reactivity, and social stress response.
METHODS: We investigated the relationship between personality scales of trait-state anxiety, subjective autonomic reactivity, and salivary cortisol levels before and after social stress exposure (Trier Social Stress Test) in 20 men.
RESULTS: Significant positive correlations between anxiety, subjective autonomic reactivity, and basal cortisol levels were observed, while neither anxiety nor subjective autonomic reactivity was correlated with social stress-induced cortisol elevation.
CONCLUSIONS: The present results indicate (i) subjects with higher degrees of trait anxiety/subjective autonomic reactivity have higher basal cortisol levels, and (ii) in contrast to the traditional view, anxious personality is not strongly associated with exaggerated cortisol response to social stress.