No effect of social exclusion on salivary cortisol secretion in women in a randomized controlled study.Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2010 Oct; 35(9):1294-8.P
Lack of social support and social exclusion are associated with adverse effects for mental and physical health. Additionally, women appear to be more vulnerable to social triggers of health disturbances. Activity of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal-axis (HPA-axis) might play a key role in this context as it has been shown both to be associated with psychosocial conditions and health outcomes and to respond differentially depending on gender. To test this hypothesis we thus investigated the effects of social exclusion on cortisol release in women. To experimentally vary social exclusion we employed a highly standardized paradigm (Cyberball) which already has been shown to affect subjective well-being and some physiological parameters.
Healthy women (n=89) were randomly assigned to one of the three Cyberball conditions: social exclusion, inclusion and technical default, respectively. Salivary cortisol and subjective mood were assessed as primary outcome variables immediately prior to and every 15 min after Cyberball.
Social exclusion had no effect on cortisol secretion though significant effects on mood were observed.
These results indicate that the Cyberball social exclusion paradigm alone though affecting psychological well-being does not affect HPA-axis functioning.