Low educational attainment, John Henryism, and cardiovascular reactivity to and recovery from personally relevant stress.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

OBJECTIVE: The John Henryism hypothesis proposes that a high level of John Henryism (JH: high-effort coping with psychosocial demands) is predictive of hypertension at low but not high socioeconomic status (SES). The objectives of the present study were to determine whether high JH and low SES (education, income, job status, and job strain) were associated with increased cardiovascular responses to laboratory social stressors. METHODS: Subjects were 58 normotensive, healthy black men age 23 to 47 years. The procedure included the completion of psychosocial questionnaires and participation in a psychophysiological reactivity protocol. The reactivity protocol involved the following experimental tasks and associated recovery periods: an active speech task and an anger recall task. Measures of systolic blood pressure (SBP), diastolic blood pressure (DBP), heart rate (HR), and rate pressure product (RPP) were obtained continuously using a Finapres beat-to-beat blood pressure monitor throughout the reactivity protocol. RESULTS: At high JH, low (compared with high) education level was linked with higher DBP during anger recall and final recovery, higher SBP during final recovery, and higher HR and RPP during speech preparation and final recovery (p <.05). Among subjects with low education, high (vs. low) JH was associated with higher SBP, HR, and RPP during final recovery (p <.05). CONCLUSIONS: John Henryism may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease among people with low education by increased cardiovascular reactivity and prolonged recovery to stress.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Merritt, MM; Bennett, GG; Williams, RB; Sollers, JJ; Thayer, JF

Published Date

  • 2004

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 66 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 49 - 55

PubMed ID

  • 14747637

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1534-7796

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1097/01.psy.0000107909.74904.3d


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States