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Resilience and Psychobiological Response to Stress in Older People: The Mediating Role of Coping Strategies

  • Zapater-Fajarí, Mariola1
  • Crespo-Sanmiguel, Isabel1
  • Pulopulos, Matias M.1, 2
  • Hidalgo, Vanesa1, 2
  • Salvador, Alicia1
  • 1 Laboratory of Cognitive Social Neuroscience, Department of Psychobiology and IDOCAL, University of Valencia, Valencia , (Spain)
  • 2 Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria Aragón, Department of Psychology and Sociology, Area of Psychobiology, University of Zaragoza, Teruel , (Spain)
Published Article
Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience
Frontiers Media SA
Publication Date
Feb 22, 2021
DOI: 10.3389/fnagi.2021.632141
  • Neuroscience
  • Original Research


Resilience, the ability to overcome adversity and face stressful demands and experiences, has been strongly associated with successful aging, a low risk of diseases and high mental and physical functioning. This relationship could be based on adaptive coping behaviors, but more research is needed to gain knowledge about the strategies employed to confront social stress. Thus, we aimed to investigate the role of the use of active or passive coping strategies by resilient people in dealing with stressful situations. For this purpose, we measured resilience, coping strategies, and perceived stress in 66 healthy older adults (31 men and 35 women) between 56 and 75 years old who were exposed to stress (Trier Social Stress Test, TSST) or a control situation. The stress response was analyzed at endocrine (cortisol) and psychological (anxiety) levels. In the stress condition, moderated mediation analysis showed a conditional indirect effect of resilience on cortisol reactivity through active coping. However, passive coping strategies did not mediate the resilience-cortisol relationship. In addition, neither active nor passive coping mediated the relationship between resilience and the anxiety response. These results suggest that resilience is associated with active coping strategies, which in turn could explain, at least in part, individual differences in the cortisol response to a psychosocial laboratory stressor. These factors may prevent the development of stress-related pathologies associated with aging and facilitate healthy and satisfactory aging.

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