Persons with higher blood pressure have emotional dampening, a reduced response to emotionally meaningful stimuli. Dampening of perceived threat could influence risk-related decision-making. The present study examined the relationship between cardiovascular emotional dampening and risk behavior. We measured resting diastolic blood pressure (DBP), emotion recognition, and risk-taking behavior in 44 healthy, self-identified males and 44 females with an average age of 22.5 years. Participants judged the type of emotion depicted in faces and sentences as an index of emotion recognition. We measured risk with a modified Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Results showed a significant correlation between risk-taking behaviors and resting DBP [r(88) = .408, p <.001.]. Sex was also correlated with resting DBP, [r(88) = -.230, p = .031]; however, a multiple regression showed no main effects or interactions with sex in prediction of risk. These results indicate that young adults with higher DBP report more risk-taking behavior and show less accuracy in recognition of emotion in faces, suggesting that cardiovascular emotional dampening may reduce threat appraisal and increase high-risk behavior. The effect of blood pressure on risk behavior could contribute to increased disease risk later in life.
Hibdon, M.; Morrison, A.; Stephens, J.; Scanlon, M.; Lindberg, C.; and McCubbin, J., "Cardiovascular emotional dampening and blood pressure: Is there a relationship between diastolic blood pressure and risk-taking behavior?" (2014). Focus on Creative Inquiry. 84.