As compared to negative affect, only a small number of studies have examined influences of positive affect on cardiovascular stress responses, of which only a few were concerned with cardiovascular recovery. In this study, heart rate, low- and high-frequency heart rate variability, blood pressure, and levels of subjectively experienced stress were obtained in 65 students before, during and after exposure to academic stress in an ecologically valid setting. Higher trait positive affect was associated with more complete cardiovascular and subjective post-stress recovery. This effect was independent of negative affect and of affective state during anticipation of the stressor. In contrast, a more positive affective state during anticipation of the challenge was related to poor post-stress recovery. The findings suggest that a temporally stable positive affect disposition may be related to adaptive responses, whereas positive emotional states in the context of stressful events can also contribute to prolonged post-stress recovery.
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