Why egalitarianism might be good for your health: physiological thriving during stressful intergroup encounters

Psychol Sci. 2007 Nov;18(11):991-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2007.02014.x.


We compared how evaluations by out-group members and evaluations by in-group members affected participants' stress responses--their neuroendocrine reactivity, cognitive appraisals, and observed anxiety--and how participants' implicit racial bias moderated these responses. Specifically, White participants completed measures of racial bias prior to the experiment. During the experiment, participants performed speech and serial subtraction tasks in front of White or Black interviewers. Several saliva samples were obtained, and they were assayed for catabolic ("breaking down") and anabolic ("building up") hormones. Interviewers' race and participants' racial bias interacted in predicting stress responses. When interviewers were Black, lower racial bias was linked with more salutary stress responses: lower threat appraisals, less anxiety, and increased levels of anabolic hormones. When interviewers were White, no effect was found for threat appraisals or anabolic hormones, and the reverse effect was observed for anxiety. Egalitarianism may have physical and psychological benefits for people living in a diverse society.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Civil Rights / psychology*
  • Cognition
  • Female
  • Group Processes*
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / analysis
  • Hydrocortisone / metabolism*
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Middle Aged
  • Saliva / chemistry
  • Stress, Psychological / metabolism*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*


  • Hydrocortisone