Subjective stress in female elite athletes and non-athletes: Evidence from cortisol analyses

Verner, Martin; Conzelmann, Achim; Lehnert, Katrin; Seiler, Roland; Wassmer, Anina; Rammsayer, Thomas (2010). Subjective stress in female elite athletes and non-athletes: Evidence from cortisol analyses. Europe's journal of psychology, 6(4), pp. 56-70. Trier: PsychOpen 10.5964/ejop.v6i4.223

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Stress response can be considered a consequence of psychological or physiological threats to the human organism. Elevated cortisol secretion represents a biological indicator of subjective stress. The extent of subjectively experienced stress depends on individual coping strategies or self-regulation skills. Because of their experience with competitive pressure, athletes might show less pronounced biological stress responses during stressful events compared to non-athletes. In the present study, the short version of the Berlin Intelligence Structure Test, a paper-pencil intelligence test, was used as an experimental stressor. Cortisol responses of 26 female Swiss elite athletes and 26 female non-athlete controls were compared. Salivary free cortisol responses were measured 15 minutes prior to, as well as immediately before and after psychometric testing. In both groups, a significant effect of time was found: High cortisol levels prior to testing decreased significantly during the testing session. Furthermore, athletes exhibited reliably lower cortisol levels than non-athlete controls. No significant interaction effects could be observed. The overall pattern of results supports the idea that elite athletes show a less pronounced cortisol-related stress response due to more efficient coping strategies.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Personality Psychology, Differential Psychology and Diagnostics
07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Sport Science (ISPW)

UniBE Contributor:

Verner, Martin, Conzelmann, Achim, Lehnert, Katrin, Seiler, Roland, Rammsayer, Thomas


100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology
700 Arts > 790 Sports, games & entertainment






Factscience Import

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 14:15

Last Modified:

21 Jan 2024 17:58

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Cortisol, athletes, intelligence test, sport



URI: (FactScience: 207997)

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