Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Kevin T. Larkin.

Committee Co-Chair

Stanley H. Cohen

Committee Member

Lindsey L. Cohen


This present study was designed to examine the relation between cardiovascular reactivity to stress and the behaviors of individuals classified as either "extraverts" or "introverts." Although experimental psychophysiological studies have been conducted to examine the relation between extraversion and physiological arousal, little is known about the ways in which extraversion and cardiovascular reactivity to stress are related. According to the optimal arousal theory, both extraverts and introverts would be expected to be more reactive to a social challenge than to a mundane non-social task, with introverts exhibiting greater reactivity to both tasks than extraverts. In contrast, a preferred task model would hypothesize that extraverts would be more reactive during a non-social task than introverts and that introverts would be more reactive than extraverts during a social task. In this study, 32 extraverted male and female undergraduates and 32 introverted male and female undergraduates participated in a social and a non-social task. Heart rate and blood pressure measures, as well as measures of self reported arousal, were obtained during both tasks and intervening rest periods. Results were unable to confirm either model as being predictive of the relation between extraversion and cardiovascular reactivity to mental stress. Females were found to exhibit lower resting systolic blood pressure than males, but no other gender differences were observed. Main effects for task were found, indicating that the social task was more arousing than the non-social task, which was further confirmed by the participants' self-reported levels of distress. Given the overall lack of results of the present and previous studies, further investigations would be better to focus more broadly upon established personality factors that may be contributing to cardiovascular reactivity, as well as to other lifestyle factors related to the development of cardiovascular disease.