We examined whether the relationships between hostility and physiological coronary heart disease (CHD) risk factors differ as a function of depressive tendencies (DT).
The participants were 672 randomly selected healthy young adults who self-reported their hostility (anger, cynicism, and paranoia) and DT. The physiological CHD risk factors studied were systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, body-mass index, serum high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, serum low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and serum triglycerides.
We found that hostility was negatively associated with the physiological CHD risk factors among individuals exhibiting high DT while hostility was positively associated with, or unrelated to, the physiological risk factors among individuals showing low DT. The Hostility x DT interaction explained 2 to 5 % of the variance in the physiological parameters.
The findings suggest that DT have a moderating influence on the relationships between hostility and CHD risk. Despite the established risk factor status of hostility, lack of anger and hostility, when combined with high DT, may represent the most severe exhaustion where the individual has given up. Disregard of this fact may explain some null findings in the research on hostility and CHD risk.