Mindfulness is known to improve individuals’ and couples’ subjective stress regulation, but little is known about how it impacts hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis responses to acute psychosocial stress. The current study tested effects of dispositional mindfulness facets on young adult couples’ cortisol responses to a conflict discussion stressor, as well as associations with psychological adjustment. One hundred heterosexual couples completed the five facet mindfulness questionnaire one week before engaging in a conflict discussion task. Each partner provided five saliva samples from pre- to post-conflict, which were assayed for cortisol. Measures of adjustment – depression and anxiety symptoms and global well-being – were also completed at this session. Hierarchical linear modeling of cortisol trajectories revealed sex-specific effects; whereas women's mindfulness (nonreactivity facet) predicted higher conflict stress cortisol levels, men's mindfulness (describing facet) predicted less pronounced cortisol reactivity/recovery curves. These patterns were related to better adjustment—lower depression symptoms for women and greater well-being for men. Implications for sex differences in mindfulness benefits are discussed.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
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