Personal Growth and Psychobiological Stress Responses to Acute Laboratory Stress


  • K. Mihara
  • A. Tsuda
  • H. Okamura
  • J. Yajima


Background: Recent years have witnessed increased interest in adaptive functions of well-being to deal with stress. In our previous study, we observed the association between personal growth (PG: a sense of continued growth and development, the sub-construct in psychological well-being) and psychobiological stress responses. However, the effect of PG on psychobiological responses induced by acute stress is not clear. The aim of this study was to experimentally verify whether difference of levels of perceived PG reflects on stress reactivity or post-stress recovery process. Methods: Twenty healthy students (11 men and 9 women, mean age = 20.6 years) were recruited, and participants were classified into high (average + 0.5 SD) or low PG groups (average – 0.5 SD) screened according to levels of perceived PG among 203 participants. PG was measured by psychological well-being subscale. At the laboratory mental stress testing session, 12 high and 8 low PG participants were required to complete a 5 min speech task and a 5min arithmetic task preceded by a 10 min baseline period. Salivary free- 3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenylethyleneglycol (MHPG: the major metabolite of norepinephrine) and perceived stress was measured at baseline, immediately after task and recovery period. Heart rate and High-frequency heart rate variability (HF: index of parasympathetic activity) was monitored during the entire period. Findings: High PG group showed significantly lower psychobiological stress responses and quickly returned to a basal level during the recovery period (MHPG and HF) compared with low PG group, although a change in subjective and objective indicators during task period was observed in both groups. Discussion: These results suggest that perceived PG in younger adults may be related with adaptive responses which facilitate recovery from daily life stress.






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