Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Kevin T. Larkin.


The effects of gender and social support on cardiovascular reactivity to a speech task were examined in this study. Seventeen males and seventeen females performed a speech task, once in the presence of an experimenter with their significant other present offering encouragement and support and once in the presence of the experimenter alone. Both blood pressure (i.e., systolic (SBP) and diastolic (DBP)) and hemodynamic parameters (i.e., heart rate (HR), cardiac output (converted to cardiac index, CI), stroke volume (converted to stroke index, SI), and pre-ejection period (PEP)) were measured during the speech tasks. In addition, total peripheral resistance (TPR) was calculated to examine the effects of the social support manipulation on the vasculature. Performance of the speech tasks was associated with increased SBP, DBP, and HR responses, as well as increased CI and TPR and decreased PEP. Females exhibited higher HR, SI, and CI and lower PEP and TPR than males during the speech tasks. Males exhibited a greater reduction in SI during both preparatory and speech phases than females. No main or interaction effects for social support were noted. These findings suggest that the presence of a significant other may not be sufficient to attenuate cardiovascular reactivity to a speech task and that other more subtle factors may be important.*.;*This dissertation was funded by grants from the West Virginia University Doctoral Student Research Program and the Department of Psychology Alumni Fund for Graduate and Undergraduate Student Research and Travel.