Four studies examined the relationship between self-esteem and cardiac vagal tone (level of influence of the parasympathetic nervous system on the heart), a variable with health implications for heart disease and auto-immune disorders. Building on evidence that self-esteem provides a sense of security and that a sense of security affects cardiac vagal tone, we theorize that self-esteem should impact cardiac vagal tone. Two experiments showed that positive self-esteem relevant feedback increases cardiac vagal tone relative to negative feedback. Two correlational studies showed that higher self-esteem measured daily over the course of 2 weeks predicted higher resting cardiac vagal tone. Theoretical and physical health implications are discussed.
- Heart rate variability
- Parasympathetic nervous system
- Vagal tone
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology