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Elliott A Beaton, Louis A Schmidt, Andrea R Ashbaugh, Diane L Santesso, Martin M Antony, Randi E McCabe, Sidney J Segalowitz, and Jay Schulkin (2006)

Low salivary cortisol levels among socially anxious young adults: Preliminary evidence from a selected and a non-selected sample

Personality and Individual Differences, 41(7):1217-1228.

We investigated salivary cortisol levels among socially anxious adults in two separate non-clinical samples using different participant designs. Study 1 examined salivary cortisol, heart rate, and subjective measures of anxiety in response to a self-presentation task in undergraduate students meeting DSM-IV criteria for social phobia. Adults with social phobia displayed significantly lower salivary cortisol compared to their non-socially phobic counterparts, despite being more anxious. Study 2 examined the relation between trait shyness and salivary cortisol in a different sample of undergraduate students who were not selected for individual differences in personality. High trait shyness was related to low salivary cortisol. We speculate that relatively low levels of salivary cortisol in socially anxious people may reflect how the adrenocortical system responds to social stress, allowing socially anxious individuals to cope and adapt to their environment.

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