For some, a stressor’s psychological and physiological influence ceases on removal; for others, the effects may persist through rumination
. These repetitive, intrusive thoughts might prolong physiological stress
responses. Previous studies produced mixed results, indicating a need to clarify the relationship between rumination
responses. The current study investigated whether a laboratory speech task is sufficient to elicit rumination
and whether those who ruminated in response to the speech task have elevated cortis of responses. Additionally, whether trait depressive rumination
follows a similar pattern was examined. It was hypothesized that those delivering speeches in a social-evaluative context would experience more posttask rumination
and that greater posttask rumination
would predict elevated cortisol
Eighty-nine participants performed a speech in front of an evaluative panel (SET) or in one of two nonexplicitly evaluative conditions. Participants indicated the frequency of the thoughts they experienced during a 10-minute rest period after the speech as a measure of posttask rumination
. Salivary cortisol
was collected at five time points throughout the session.
The SET condition elicited more posttask rumination
than the nonexplicitly evaluative conditions. Posttask rumination
was associated with amplified and prolonged elevations in cortisol
across all conditions. Trait depressive rumination
was associated with blunted cortisol
responses in the SET condition. There was no association between trait depressive rumination
responses in the nonexplicitly evaluative conditions.
Results suggest that the nature of the relationship between cortisol
activation and rumination
may be contingent on how rumination
is conceptualized and measured.
HPA = hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical; SET = social-evaluative threat; neSET = nonexplicitly evaluative; RSQ-22 = 22-item Rumination Subscale of the Responses Style Questionnaire; TQ = Thoughts Questionnaire; ELISA = enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.