We investigated variation in baseline cortisol levels in relation to relationship status (single or in a relationship), relationship characteristics (length, stability, presence or absence of clear dominance), or individual attributes (dominant or subordinate status, relative physical attractiveness, relationship worries). Study participants were 77 men and 75 women aged between 18 and 38 years. Individuals in romantic relationships had lower cortisol levels than singles. Individuals of African ethnicity, however, showed the opposite pattern. Individuals who perceived their relationship to be highly unstable had higher cortisol levels. Aside from African-Americans, married individuals reported the lowest relationship instability and the lowest cortisol levels, followed by individuals in long-term relationships, and by individuals in short-term relationships. The presence or absence of clear dominance in the relationship, dominance status, or relationship worries did not affect cortisol levels. Therefore relationship status and relationship instability were better predictors of variation in cortisol (presumably through stress-related mechanisms) than individual attributes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)