The relationship between socioeconomic status, hostility, and blood pressure reactions to mental stress in men: data from the Whitehall II study

Health Psychol. 1997 Mar;16(2):131-6. doi: 10.1037//0278-6133.16.2.131.


This study investigated the relationship among blood pressure reactions to mental stress, cynical hostility, and socioeconomic status (SES) in 1,091 male public servants. Occupational grade served to index SES and cynical hostility was assessed using the Cook-Medley scale. (Cook & Medley, 1954). The magnitude of systolic, but not diastolic, blood pressure change scores to stress was positively associated with occupational grade: the higher the grade, the greater the reactions. Mental stress task performance also varied with occupational grade but was unrelated to reactivity. Ratings of task difficulty did not vary with occupational grade. Cynical hostility was negatively related to occupational grade, and, contrary to previous findings, negatively related to systolic blood pressure reactivity. Cynical hostility was also negatively related to mental stress task performance but unrelated to ratings of task difficulty.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Blood Pressure / physiology*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Coronary Disease / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Hostility*
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • London / epidemiology
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Health
  • Occupations / classification
  • Risk Factors
  • Sampling Studies
  • Social Class*
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology*
  • Task Performance and Analysis