Cardiovascular reactivity to acute psychological stress is associated with generalized self-efficacy and self-efficacy outcomes during adventure challenges
Outdoor adventure challenges are commonly used to enhance self-efficacy, but the physiological mechanisms involved remain unexplored. Additionally, while studies have documented the influence of self-efficacy on stress management, general self-efficacy has yet to be fully understood in the context of cardiovascular stress reactivity (CVR). This study investigated the influence of self-efficacy beliefs on CVR during acute psychological stress tasks. Additionally, it explored whether CVR serves as a novel mechanism underlying the outcomes of outdoor adventure challenges. As part of a wider randomized controlled trial, participants (n = 55) were invited to complete a laboratory session to assess CVR to an active (paced auditory serial addition test (PASAT)) and a passive (cold pressor test (CPT)) stress task. Randomized participants (n = 33) to the experimental condition also engaged in a high ropes challenge course after the laboratory session. It was found that greater self-reported self-efficacy was associated with larger CVR during the CPT and positively associated with perceived engagement and performance during the PASAT. Secondly, participants reporting positive change in self-efficacy post-intervention were associated with greater CVR and greater CVR was associated with higher ratings of intervention engagement and perceived challenge. This study provides preliminary evidence suggesting that greater efficacy beliefs may heighten CVR to passive acute psychological stressors. Habitual stress reactivity may represent a novel mechanism involved in outdoor and adventure-based interventions. Future research should continue to explore the impact of psychological variables on stress physiology and examine CVR as a potential mechanism in adventure experiences.
School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University
The Leadership High organisation
National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Leicester Biomedical Research Centre
- Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences
- VoR (Version of Record)
Rights holder© The Authors
Publisher statementThis is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.