We are watching you: type D personality is associated with exaggerated cardiovascular stress reactivity but only under high social evaluative threat

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Colleges, School and Institutes


The Type D personality has been associated with a range of negative health
outcomes including cardiovascular disease. A potential mechanism is large
magnitude cardiovascular reactivity to stress. However, the studies on reactivity to acute psychological stress in Type D individuals have reported equivocal findings, potentially due to the varying social aspects of the stressor employed. The present study, examined whether cardiovascular reactivity in Type D and Non-Type D undergraduate students differed according to an asocial (31 Type D , 30 Non-Type D: 52% female) or social (35 Type D, 34 Non-Type D: 55% female) version of the stress task. Type D personality was assessed using the DS14 questionnaire, with participant’s blood pressure and heart rate recorded at rest and during a 15-minute stress protocol comprising the Stroop and a mental arithmetic task. With adjustment for age, cardiovascular fitness, perceived stressfulness (which differed between the groups) and baseline levels (which did not differ between groups), there were significant group x condition interactions for systolic (p = .010) and diastolic (p = .029) blood pressure, and heart rate (p = .033) reactivity. Under the social condition, Type D individuals exhibited significantly greater systolic blood pressure (p = .010), and heart rate (p = .009) reactivity, with no group differences under the asocial condition. Diastolic blood pressure reactivity did not significantly vary according to Type D status within either condition. Interestingly, Type D individuals’ responses were somewhat lower than non-Type D individuals for all reactivity measures in the asocial condition, although this was not significant. This study highlights that Type D individuals only exhibit exaggerated haemodynamic reactions under conditions of high social evaluative threat. This suggests that the possible mechanism underlying the association between Type D personality and increased cardiovascular disease risk is via stress responses in highly social situations.

Bibliographic note

Abstracts from this meeting were also published in Psychosomatic Medicine, vol. 76(3), April 2014


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication72nd Annual Scientific Meeting
Subtitle of host publication Stretching the Boundaries: From Mechanisms of Disease to Models of Health
Publication statusPublished - 13 Mar 2014
EventAmerican Psychosomatic Society - San Francisco, United States
Duration: 12 Mar 201415 Mar 2014


ConferenceAmerican Psychosomatic Society
CountryUnited States
CitySan Francisco