Header

UZH-Logo

Maintenance Infos

Psychobiological impact of language use in the context of psychosocial stressors


Fischer, Susanne; Nater, Urs M; Wingeier, Manuela; Ehlert, Ulrike; Ditzen, Beate (2015). Psychobiological impact of language use in the context of psychosocial stressors. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 61:72.

Abstract

Objective: In a professional context, speaking with a local dialect is usually interpreted ambiguously. It is well established that people use their language as an impression-management strategy in the workspace. One country in which the psychobiological effects of language use can be investigated in a highly standard way is Switzerland. Swiss Germans speak at least two languages: their local dialect and High German. Our aim was to test whether speaking High German increases psychobiological stress in the context of a psychosocial stressor.

Methods: We used the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) as a psychosocial stressor. This paradigm combines a mock interview and mental arithmetic task and reliably induces a psychobiological stress response. Sixty-three healthy native Swiss German speakers were randomly allocated to two different conditions: performing the TSST in High German vs. Swiss German. Stress and anxiety levels, heart rate, salivary alpha-amylase and cortisol were assessed at multiple time points.

Results: Participants speaking High German did not differ from those speaking Swiss German in terms of stress (p = .128) and anxiety responses (p = .433). No differences became apparent regarding heart rate (p = .352) and alpha-amylase (p = .974). Participants speaking High German showed significantly higher cortisol responses (p = .039).

Discussion: Speaking High German was not associated with a more pronounced psychological stress response. However it specifically increased cortisol responses. The aim not to show one's local dialect may thus implicitly aggravate the aspects of perceived performance pressure and social evaluation that are typical of psychosocial stressors.

Abstract

Objective: In a professional context, speaking with a local dialect is usually interpreted ambiguously. It is well established that people use their language as an impression-management strategy in the workspace. One country in which the psychobiological effects of language use can be investigated in a highly standard way is Switzerland. Swiss Germans speak at least two languages: their local dialect and High German. Our aim was to test whether speaking High German increases psychobiological stress in the context of a psychosocial stressor.

Methods: We used the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) as a psychosocial stressor. This paradigm combines a mock interview and mental arithmetic task and reliably induces a psychobiological stress response. Sixty-three healthy native Swiss German speakers were randomly allocated to two different conditions: performing the TSST in High German vs. Swiss German. Stress and anxiety levels, heart rate, salivary alpha-amylase and cortisol were assessed at multiple time points.

Results: Participants speaking High German did not differ from those speaking Swiss German in terms of stress (p = .128) and anxiety responses (p = .433). No differences became apparent regarding heart rate (p = .352) and alpha-amylase (p = .974). Participants speaking High German showed significantly higher cortisol responses (p = .039).

Discussion: Speaking High German was not associated with a more pronounced psychological stress response. However it specifically increased cortisol responses. The aim not to show one's local dialect may thus implicitly aggravate the aspects of perceived performance pressure and social evaluation that are typical of psychosocial stressors.

Statistics

Altmetrics

Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:November 2015
Deposited On:30 Sep 2015 12:50
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 19:26
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0306-4530
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2015.07.588
PubMed ID:26383474

Download

Full text not available from this repository.
View at publisher

TrendTerms

TrendTerms displays relevant terms of the abstract of this publication and related documents on a map. The terms and their relations were extracted from ZORA using word statistics. Their timelines are taken from ZORA as well. The bubble size of a term is proportional to the number of documents where the term occurs. Red, orange, yellow and green colors are used for terms that occur in the current document; red indicates high interlinkedness of a term with other terms, orange, yellow and green decreasing interlinkedness. Blue is used for terms that have a relation with the terms in this document, but occur in other documents.
You can navigate and zoom the map. Mouse-hovering a term displays its timeline, clicking it yields the associated documents.

Author Collaborations