Publication Date

Summer 2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Cheryl Chancellor-Freeland


Confederate, Cortisol, Co-Rumination, Social Support, Stress, TSST

Subject Areas

Psychology, Experimental; Psychology, Psychobiology; Biology, Physiology


A recently defined type of social support known as co-rumination, the process of sharing negative thoughts, feelings, or ideas with a supporter that triggers the supporter to share similar thoughts and feelings of negativity, is believed to generate both a sense of bonding and an exacerbated stress response. The present study examined the impact of co-rumination on stress levels and mood states in men and women. Participants were assigned to one of three conditions (a control condition, a stress condition without a co-ruminator, or a stress condition with a co-ruminator), which depended on both the timeslot for which a participant signed up and the availability of researchers during the day. Stress was evaluated by examining salivary free cortisol levels derived from the difference between pre-stress baseline levels and post-stress peak levels. Mood was measured using the Brunel Mood Scale containing subscales that measured anger, confusion, depression, fatigue, tension, and vigor. Results from this study were that participants in both the stress and co-rumination conditions produced elevated levels of cortisol in comparison to participants in the control condition. In addition, participants in both the stress and the co-rumination conditions differed from participants in the control condition on the fatigue dimension of the Brunel Mood Scale. The results of this study suggest that certain types of social support are not universally beneficial and are actually hazardous to the mental health of individuals.