Published:  2016-05-01

Neuroticism and extraversion in relation to physiological stress reactivity during adolescence

Authors:  Brittany E. Evans, Jacqueline Stam, Anja C. Huizink, Agnes M. Willemen, P. Michiel Westenberg, Susan Branje, Wim Meeus, Hans M. Koot, Pol A. C. van Lier

Tags:  Adolescence, Cortisol, Extraversion, Heart rate, Heart rate variability, Neuroticism, Personality, Pre-ejection period, Stress reactivity

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The current study examined mean level and change in extraversion and neuroticism across adolescence in relation to physiological stress reactivity to social evaluation. Adolescents (n=327) from the Dutch general population reported on personality measures at five annual assessments. At age 17 years, adolescents participated in a psychosocial stress procedure characterized by social evaluation during which cortisol, heart rate, pre-ejection period (PEP) and heart rate variability were assessed. Dual latent growth curve models were fitted in which the intercepts (mean level) and slopes (change) of personality across adolescence predicted the intercepts (baseline) and slopes (reactivity) of the physiological stress measures. Most comparisons revealed no relation between personality and stress reactivity. Adolescents with higher mean level scores on extraversion did show lower cortisol reactivity. Adolescents with higher mean level neuroticism scores showed higher PEP reactivity. Our findings lend partial support for a relation between personality and physiological stress reactivity.