Friendship network position and salivary cortisol levels

Olga Kornienko, Katherine H. Clemans, Dorothée Out, Douglas A. Granger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


We employed a social network analysis approach to examine the associations between friendship network position and cortisol levels. The sample consisted of 74 first-year students (93% female, ages 22-38 years, M = 27) from a highly competitive, accelerated Nursing program. Participants completed questionnaires online, and the entire group met at one time to complete a series of sociometric nominations and donated a saliva sample. Saliva was later assayed for cortisol. Metrics derived from directed friendship nominations indexed each student's friendship network status regarding popularity, gregariousness, and degree of interconnectedness. Results revealed that (1) individuals with lower gregariousness status (i.e., lowest number of outgoing ties) had higher cortisol levels, and (2) individuals with higher popularity status (i.e., higher numbers of incoming ties) had higher cortisol levels. Popularity and gregariousness-based network status is significantly associated with hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activity. Implications for prevailing theories of the social determinants of individual differences in biological sensitivity and susceptibility to context are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)385-396
Number of pages12
JournalSocial Neuroscience
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2013


  • Cortisol
  • Friendships
  • Popularity
  • Social network analysis
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Development
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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