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Salivary Bioscience News

HPA Axis Attunement May Serve a Bonding Function within Women’s Close Friendships

The Role of Co-Rumination and Adrenocortical Attunement in Young Women’s Close Friendships.

Author: Rankin A, et al. (2018), Psychoneuroendocrinology.

ABSTRACT:

Attunement, or synchrony, of behavior and physiology has been well documented in family, mother-child, and romantic relationships.  This study aimed to determine whether attunement of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis occurs in women’s close friendships, and the role of a common social style, co-rumination in that attunement.  Saliva samples (later assayed for cortisol) were collected from 37 dyads (74 individuals) during a laboratory task in which they were either asked to work together toward a common goal (control task) or discuss interpersonal problems, providing opportunity for co-rumination.  Findings suggest that friends demonstrated adrenocortical attunement prior to engaging in either task, and that the level of attunement prior to the task predicted co-rumination and its components for both groups. Co-rumination, in turn, predicted adrenocortical attunement after the task.  These findings suggest that bidirectional attunement of HPA activity may serve a bonding function within women’s close friendships. Implications for how these findings fit with the tend-and-befriend hypothesis are discussed.

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Keywords: Cortisol, Attunement, Synchrony, Friendship, Co-rumination

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