Sugarcoated isolation: Evidence that social avoidance is linked to higher basal glucose levels and higher consumption of glucose

Tsachi Ein-Dor, James A. Coan, Abira Reizer, Elizabeth B. Gross, Dana Dahan, Meredyth A. Wegener, Rafael Carel, Claude R. Cloninger, Ada H. Zohar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: The human brain adjusts its level of effort in coping with various life stressors as a partial function of perceived access to social resources. We examined whether people who avoid social ties maintain a higher fasting basal level of glucose in their bloodstream and consume more sugar-rich food, reflecting strategies to draw more on personal resources when threatened. Methods: In Study 1 (N = 60), we obtained fasting blood glucose and adult attachment orientations data. In Study 2 (N = 285), we collected measures of fasting blood glucose and adult attachment orientations from older adults of mixed gender, using a measure of attachment style different from Study 1. In Study 3 (N = 108), we examined the link between trait-like attachment avoidance, manipulation of an asocial state, and consumption of sugar-rich food. In Study 4 (N = 115), we examined whether manipulating the social network will moderate the effect of attachment avoidance on consumption of sugar-rich food. Results: In Study 1, fasting blood glucose levels corresponded with higher attachment avoidance scores after statistically adjusting for time of assessment and interpersonal anxiety. For Study 2, fasting blood glucose continued to correspond with higher adult attachment avoidance even after statistically adjusting for interpersonal anxiety, stress indices, age, gender, social support and body mass. In Study 3, people high in attachment avoidance consume more sugar-rich food, especially when reminded of asocial tendencies. Study 4 indicated that after facing a stressful task in the presence of others, avoidant people gather more sugar-rich food than more socially oriented people. Conclusion: Results are consistent with the suggestion that socially avoidant individuals upwardly adjust their basal glucose levels and consume more glucose-rich food with the expectation of increased personal effort because of limited access to social resources. Further investigation of this link is warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Article number492
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Volume6
Issue numberAPR
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Attachment
  • Avoidance
  • Glucose
  • Metabolic resources
  • Social baseline theory
  • Social support
  • Stress

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