Threat-related motivational disengagement: Integrating blunted cardiovascular reactivity to stress into the biopsychosocial model of challenge and threat

Adrian Hase*, Marije Aan Het Rot, Ricardo de Miranda Azevedo, Paul Freeman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
39 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Background: The biopsychosocial model of challenge and threat specifies a challenge-threat continuum where favorable demand-resource evaluations, efficient cardiovascular responses, and superior performance characterize challenge; and maladaptive outcomes like clinical depression characterize threat states. The model also specifies task engagement, operationalized as heart rate and ventricular contractility increases, as a prerequisite for challenge and threat states. The blunted cardiovascular reactivity to stress literature describes reductions of these increases and associates them with problems like clinical depression. Objectives: To determine whether blunted cardiovascular reactivity to stress has implications for challenge and threat theory. Methods: We review and synthesize the literatures on blunted cardiovascular reactivity to stress and the biopsychosocial model. Results: Blunted cardiovascular reactivity appears not to reflect a physiological inability to respond to stress. Rather, it reflects a contextually dependent motivational dysregulation and reduced reactivity to stress consistent with deficient task engagement in the biopsychosocial model. Conclusion: We argue that blunted cardiovascular reactivity represents deficient task engagement, and more generally, motivational disengagement due to threat states. Our biopsychosocial model-based approach conceptualizes this motivational disengagement as a tendency to avoid motivated performance situations. This tendency may represent a defense mechanism against subsequent threat and might explain associations with disorders like clinical depression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-369
Number of pages15
JournalAnxiety Stress and Coping
Volume33
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul-2020

Keywords

  • Cardiovascular responses
  • demand-resource evaluations
  • task engagement
  • motivational disengagement
  • clinical depression
  • ACUTE PSYCHOLOGICAL STRESS
  • MAJOR DEPRESSIVE DISORDER
  • LIFE EVENTS
  • ANHEDONIC SYMPTOMS
  • CORTISOL REACTIONS
  • RESPONSES
  • REWARD
  • SELF
  • PERFORMANCE
  • AVOIDANCE

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