The role of co-rumination and adrenocortical attunement in young women's close friendships

Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2018 Dec:98:61-66. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2018.07.027. Epub 2018 Jul 26.


Attunement, or synchrony, of behavior and physiology has been well documented in family, mother-child, and romantic relationships. This study aimed to determine whether attunement of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis occurs in women's close friendships, and the role of a common social style, co-rumination in that attunement. Saliva samples (later assayed for cortisol) were collected from 37 dyads (74 individuals) during a laboratory task in which they were either asked to work together toward a common goal (control task) or discuss interpersonal problems, providing opportunity for co-rumination. Findings suggest that friends demonstrated adrenocortical attunement prior to engaging in either task, and that the level of attunement prior to the task predicted co-rumination and its components for both groups. Co-rumination, in turn, predicted adrenocortical attunement after the task. These findings suggest that bidirectional attunement of HPA activity may serve a bonding function within women's close friendships. Implications for how these findings fit with the tend-and-befriend hypothesis are discussed.

Keywords: Attunement; Co-rumination; Cortisol; Friendship; Synchrony.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adrenal Cortex / physiology*
  • Female
  • Friends / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / analysis
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / metabolism
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System / metabolism
  • Rumination, Cognitive / physiology*
  • Saliva / chemistry
  • Social Support
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Young Adult


  • Hydrocortisone