#6| Volume 151, ISSUE 2, P190-191, December 03, 2009

Correlation between social desirability and autonomic nervous function under goal-oriented stress (mental arithmetic) with consideration of parental attitude

      We studied the correlation between parental attitude in early life and youth, social desirability, and autonomic nervous function under acute goal-oriented stress involving mental arithmetic. Subjects were 59 healthy male and female adult volunteers who were tested on the manifest anxiety scale, including the lie scale that indicates social desirability. The subjects were subsequently assigned to either a firm or a non-firm social desirability group. The subjects also completed the early life, youth, and adulthood experiences inventory, which included parental attitudes such as “praised by parents” and “scolded by parents.” The tension inventory assesses the tension level before and during mental arithmetic and the interest in mental arithmetic test. Before and during the four-minute mental arithmetic, we measured the subjects' heart rate, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, and pulse pressure. We found that social desirability intensity correlated positively with strong memories of parental praise in preschool (p<0.01) and senior high school (15–17 years of age) (p<0.05) and correlated negatively with strong memories of parental praise in university days (18–21 years of age) (p<0.05). Changes in heart rate before and during mental arithmetic increased more for the firm social desirability group than for the non-firm social desirability group (p<0.0125 after Bonferroni correction). Changes in tension inventory scores tended to increase more for the firm social desirability group (p=0.182). In short, strong parental expectations, shown by strong praise in preschool age (human relations mainly with parents) and senior high school (preparation for success at a “good” university or company) and weak parental praise at university age (determination to become independent of parents) appear to be associated with firm social desirability. Firm social desirability, which is controlled by conscious parental regulation, helps increase sympathetic nervous activity, which is not controlled by conscious regulation, in acute goal-oriented stress situations.
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