Mood and stress: how physical and social-evaluative stressors impact emotional inertia

  • E. Rathner
  • G. Krammer
  • A. Schwerdtfeger


Background: Emotions fluctuate over time due to internal and external demands. If these natural patterns in emotional fluctuation change, affective disorders are more likely to appear. Emotional intertia can be used to study emotional fluctuation, and is regarded to be an underlying mechanism in the development and persistence of depression. Thus, a high emotional inertia is representing persistent emotions and a low emotional inertia frequent mood changes. In the current study the connection between stress, either physical stress (surgery= OP) or social-evaluative stress (TSST) and changes in emotional inertia were examined. Methods: A total of 55 female participants (M=47.6, SD=14.07) underwent either a surgery (n=25) or completed the TSST (n=30). Participants completed an ambulatory assessment 3 days prior and 1 day post stressor and a total of 1787 observations were made (MOP=37.44, MTSST= 39.5). We assessed mood, perceived stress and social interactions every 40 minutes (+/- 15). Results: Results indicated that emotional inertia was present under any condition. Inertia was moderated by type of stressor and time to stressor in a way that inertia was elevated if participants were confronted with a physical stressor and reduced if participants were confronted with social-evaluative stress. The effect of time to stressor on inertia was only present in the social-evaluative stress condition. Conclusions: Although inertia previously was discussed as a trait this study indicates that it is dependent on the context. Therefore, we suggest to consider situational influences on inertia in future research.
Poster presentations