The role of Salivary Cortisol and Progesterone in female friendships
The endocrinology of female friendships: Cortisol and progesterone attunement after separation
Rankin et al., (2021) Biological Psychology
ABSTRACT: Friendships constitute important relationships, and often function to reduce stress, but have been under-studied. In mother-child dyads, infants coordinate their stress response with their caregivers without experiencing the stressor themselves. The current study used a modified version of the Trier Social Stress Test to examine whether i) friends are physiologically attuned (i.e., cortisol and progesterone); ii) attunement differs as a function of social acceptance or rejection external to the dyad; and, iii) friends can ‘catch’ a stress response only through non-verbal cues. Friends showed both cortisol and progesterone attunement at the beginning of the study. Friends showed cortisol attunement across time and conditions. Friends’ progesterone levels were significantly, but negatively associated across time and conditions. They did not, however, show a stress contagion as a result of one friend experiencing stress. These findings suggest that cortisol and progesterone play different roles in the attunement of stress and subsequent affiliation.
Keywords: Trier Social Stress Test, cortisol, progesterone, friendship, mother-child, stress
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