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Cardiovascular response to harassment and the influence of apology strategies on recovery period Anderson, Jeremy C.

Abstract

184 participants (92 male, 92 female) performed a laboratory stress task involving mental arithmetic in a study examining the influence of apology strategies on cardiovascular recovery from anger provocation involving harassment. Participants completed the Cook-Medley Hostility Scale prior to the laboratory session, to assess their degree of cynicism. Participants were randomly assigned to one of four conditions: (1) non-harassed Control, (2) harassed/Good Apology, (3) harassed/Pseudo-apology, or (4) harassed/Delayed Apology. Measures of systolic blood pressure (SBP), diastolic blood pressure (DBP), and heart rate (HR), and samples of salivary Cortisol were taken at consecutive baseline, task and return to baseline periods. Results indicate that verbal harassment resulted in increased reported anger and increased cardiovascular reactivity in participants, but did not result in slower overall recovery than was seen in Controls. Participants who received a genuine apology displayed faster decreases in self-reported anger than those who received a fake apology, termed a pseudo-apology. Participants low in cynicism displayed little i f any difference in cardiovascular recovery between apology conditions, while those higher in cynicism displayed faster SBP recovery when they received a genuine apology. High-cynical individuals displayed similar SBP recovery when given a pseudo-apology compared to when given no apology. Men typically displayed slower overall SBP recovery than women and men displayed the fastest H R recovery when given a pseudo-apology. Asian participants displayed slower SBP recovery when they received no apology at the beginning of the recovery period. It is concluded that a genuine apology can accelerate recovery from anger provocation but only in certain population subgroups.

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