The effects of the spontaneous presence of a spouse/partner and others on cardiovascular reactions to an acute psychological challenge

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Colleges, School and Institutes


The presence of supportive others has been associated with attenuated cardiovascular reactivity in the laboratory. The effects of the presence of a spouse and others in a more naturalistic setting have received little attention. Blood pressure and heart rate reactions to mental stress were recorded at home in 1028 married/partnered individuals. For 112 participants, their spouse/partner was present; for 78, at least one other person was present. Women tested with a spouse/partner present showed lower magnitude systolic blood pressure and heart rate reactivity than those tested without. Individuals tested with at least one nonspousal other present also displayed attenuated reactivity. This extends the results of laboratory studies and indicates that the spontaneous presence of others is associated with a reduction in cardiovascular reactivity in an everyday environment; spouse/partner presence would appear to be especially effective for women.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)633-640
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2006


  • reactivity, heart rate, blood pressure, presence of spouse/partner, social support, acute stress