Activating attachments enhances heart rate variability
AuthorBryant, RA; Hutanamon, T
Source TitlePLoS One
PublisherPUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE
University of Melbourne Author/sBryant, Richard
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsBryant, R. A. & Hutanamon, T. (2018). Activating attachments enhances heart rate variability. PLOS ONE, 13 (2), https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0151747.
Access StatusOpen Access
NHMRC Grant codeNHMRC/APP1073041
Although activating mental representations of attachment figures is beneficial for psychological health, there is a paucity of knowledge of the underlying mechanisms. We investigated how priming attachment figures may modulate parasympathetic stress response. Participants (N = 62) with varying degrees of attachment security underwent a cold pressor test, and then imagined an attachment or non-attachment figure. Heart rate variability was assessed throughout the study. Participants with low avoidant attachment levels displayed less negative affect and greater heart rate variability following the attachment prime than those who imagined the non-attachment prime. This beneficial effect of attachment priming was not observed in participants with high avoidant attachment levels. These findings highlight that activating attachment representations can enhance the parasympathetic stress response in people with secure attachment styles, and provides one explanation for the psychological benefits of attachment proximity.
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