Influence of stress on physiological synchrony in a stressful versus non-stressful group setting

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Journal of Neural Transmission. Springer Nature. 2021, 128(9), pp. 1335-1345. ISSN 0300-9564. eISSN 1435-1463. Available under: doi: 10.1007/s00702-021-02384-2
Zusammenfassung

Physiological synchrony (PS) is defined as the co-occurrence and interdependence of physiological activity between interaction partners. Previous research has uncovered numerous influences on the extent of PS, such as relationship type or individual characteristics. Here, we investigate the influence of acute stress on PS. We do so in a setting in which PS was not promoted, but contact between group members was explicitly minimized. We reanalyzed cortisol, alpha-amylase, and subjective stress data from 138 participants (mean age = [Formula: see text], 47.1% female) who previously underwent the Trier Social Stress Test for groups (TSST-G) or a non-stressful control task together, collected as part of a larger project by Popovic et al. (Sci Rep 10: 7845, 2020). Using a stability and influence model, an established method to test for synchrony, we tested whether individuals' cortisol and alpha-amylase concentrations could be predicted by group members' levels. We found cortisol PS in participants who were in the same group, the extent of which was stronger in the non-stressful control condition. For alpha-amylase, participants were synchronized as well; furthermore, there was an interaction between previous stress levels and PS. This suggests that while synchrony of both stress markers can occur in group settings even with spurious interaction, stressor exposure might attenuate its extent. We argue that if PS occurs in a sample where interaction was minimal, the phenomenon might be more widespread than previously thought. Furthermore, stressor exposure might influence whether a situation allows for PS. We conclude that PS should be investigated within group settings with various degrees of social interaction to further expose mechanisms of and influence on PS.

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Fachgebiet (DDC)
150 Psychologie
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Physiological synchrony · Endocrine synchrony, Cortisol, Alpha-amylase, Stress contagion, Trier Social Stress Test for groups
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ISO 690DENK, Bernadette F., Stephanie J. DIMITROFF, Maria MEIER, Annika B. E. BENZ, Ulrike U. BENTELE, Eva UNTERNAEHRER, Nathalie F. POPOVIC, Wolfgang GAISSMAIER, Jens C. PRUESSNER, 2021. Influence of stress on physiological synchrony in a stressful versus non-stressful group setting. In: Journal of Neural Transmission. Springer Nature. 2021, 128(9), pp. 1335-1345. ISSN 0300-9564. eISSN 1435-1463. Available under: doi: 10.1007/s00702-021-02384-2
BibTex
@article{Denk2021-09Influ-54504,
  year={2021},
  doi={10.1007/s00702-021-02384-2},
  title={Influence of stress on physiological synchrony in a stressful versus non-stressful group setting},
  number={9},
  volume={128},
  issn={0300-9564},
  journal={Journal of Neural Transmission},
  pages={1335--1345},
  author={Denk, Bernadette F. and Dimitroff, Stephanie J. and Meier, Maria and Benz, Annika B. E. and Bentele, Ulrike U. and Unternaehrer, Eva and Popovic, Nathalie F. and Gaissmaier, Wolfgang and Pruessner, Jens C.}
}
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