Intraindividual coupling of daily stress and cognition

Martin J. Sliwinski, Joshua M. Smyth, Scott M. Hofer, Robert S. Stawski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

196 Scopus citations


Most psychological theories predict associations among processes that transpire within individuals. However, these theories are often tested by examining relationships at the between-persons (BP) rather than the within-persons (WP) level. The authors examin ed the WP and BP relationships between daily stress and daily variability in cognitive performance. Daily stress and cognitive performance were assessed on 6 occasions in 108 older adults and 68 young adults. WP variability in stress predicted WP variability in response times (RTs) on a 2-back working memory task in both younger and older adults. That is, RTs were slower on high-stress days compared with low-stress days. There was evidence of an amplified WP stress effect in the older adults on a serial attention task. There was no evidence of stress effects on simple versions of these tasks that placed minimal demands on working memory. These results are consistent with theories that postulate that stress-related cognitive interference competes for attentional resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)545-557
Number of pages13
JournalPsychology and Aging
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Cognition
  • Intraindividual variability
  • Stress
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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