There are large individual differences in dealing with everyday social stress. Therefore, we investigated the association of social inhibition (and its facets) with the emotional and physiological responses to the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST).
Undergraduate students (N = 312) completed the 15-item Social Inhibition Questionnaire (SIQ15) and participated in the TSST, while emotional and cardiovascular stress responses were recorded. We examined the effect of social inhibition across time with repeated-measures ANCOVAs.
During social stress (and recovery), social inhibition was associated with increased negative mood reactivity (especially the behavioral inhibition facet) and heightened sympathetic activation (especially the social withdrawal and interpersonal sensitivity). Physiological stress reactivity seems to be mostly α-adrenergic in women, and also β-adrenergic in men.
Emotional and physiological stress responses are associated with individual differences in social inhibition. This warrants more research on mechanisms that underlie the relations between social inhibition, stress and health.