Bullying, loneliness, and future responses to stress

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Bully victimization has been associated with blunted cardiovascular responses to stress as well as elevated responses to stress. The difference between these altered physiological responses to stress is largely unknown. This study explored several possible moderators to the relationship between

Bully victimization has been associated with blunted cardiovascular responses to stress as well as elevated responses to stress. The difference between these altered physiological responses to stress is largely unknown. This study explored several possible moderators to the relationship between chronic stress and future cardiac output (an indicator of increased stress) in response to future stressors. These moderators include the difference between social and physical stressors and individual levels of loneliness. Participants were administered measures of loneliness and victimization history, and led to anticipate either a "social" (recorded speech) or "non-social" (pain tolerance test ) stressor, neither of which occurred. EKG and impedance cardiography were measured throughout the session. When anticipating both stressors, loneliness and victimization were associated with increased CO. A regression revealed a three-way interaction, with change in cardiac output depending on victimization history, loneliness, and condition in the physical stressor condition. Loneliness magnified the CO output levels of non-bullied individuals when facing a physical stressor. These results suggest that non- bullied participants high in loneliness are more stressed out when facing stressors, particularly stressors that are physically threatening in nature.