Mindfulness is known to improve individuals' and couples' subjective stress regulation, but little is known about how it impacts hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis responses to acute psychosocial stress. The current study tested effects of dispositional mindfulness facets on young adult couples' cortisol responses to a conflict discussion stressor, as well as associations with psychological adjustment. One hundred heterosexual couples completed the five facet mindfulness questionnaire one week before engaging in a conflict discussion task. Each partner provided five saliva samples from pre- to post-conflict, which were assayed for cortisol. Measures of adjustment - depression and anxiety symptoms and global well-being - were also completed at this session. Hierarchical linear modeling of cortisol trajectories revealed sex-specific effects; whereas women's mindfulness (nonreactivity facet) predicted higher conflict stress cortisol levels, men's mindfulness (describing facet) predicted less pronounced cortisol reactivity/recovery curves. These patterns were related to better adjustment-lower depression symptoms for women and greater well-being for men. Implications for sex differences in mindfulness benefits are discussed.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Biological Psychiatry