Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Kevin Larkin.


This study extends previous work investigating the generalizability of cardiovascular reactivity to stress obtained in response to laboratory-based tasks to cardiovascular reactivity measured in response to a natural occurring event. Cardiovascular reactivity (HR, SBP, DBP) to stress was measured with ambulatory monitoring equipment in 6 male and 16 female healthy Caucasian graduate students in two settings: during five standardized laboratory stressors, and during the proposal or defense of a thesis or dissertation. Results indicate that for all cardiovascular parameters, the magnitude of change was greatest in response to the natural event, and that among the laboratory tasks, the greatest degree of reactivity was observed in response to the speech task. However, the cardiovascular reactivity associated with the speech task was not the best predictor of the natural speech task, despite the structural similarity of these two tasks. Overall, greater correlations were noted among all of the tasks based on absolute values of HR and BP versus residualized change scores for HR and BP, and greater correlations were also observed among anticipation periods than among task periods. Partial support was provided for the hypothesis that the generalizability of cardiovascular reactivity to stress would be enhanced using an aggregation of multiple tasks rather than single tasks. This effect was observed for HR but not BP. Consistent with the literature in this field, only limited generalizability of cardiovascular response to stress was observed.