Date of Award

Winter 1989

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Rebecca Warner


This study was conducted to assess whether certain personality characteristics and a positive family history of hypertension are associated with excessive cardiovascular reactivity. Subjects (M = 28, F = 37) engaged in a laboratory task designed to serve as a social stressor. Subjects were separated into three groups based on their self-reports of assertiveness in social situations. It was hypothesized that high and low assertiveness groups would exhibit greater heart rate and cardiovascular reactivity than subjects with average assertiveness tendencies. This relationship was not supported although significant correlations were found between low assertiveness scores and increased systolic and diastolic reactivity measures. In addition, hostile assertive tendencies were significantly correlated to heart rate reactivity. Subjects with hypertensive parents exhibited significantly higher task anticipation reactivity than did children of normotensive parents. However, subjects with no family history of hypertension exhibited greater task performance reactivity than subjects with a family history of hypertension. The strongest predictors of resting blood pressure were biophysical variables while the best predictors of cardiovascular reactivity were psychological variables.