The contrasting physiological and subjective effects of chewing gum on social stress

Martin John Cox, Gemma Gray, Christopher Miles, Nigel Wilson, Rebecca Jenks, Andrew J. Johnson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    16 Citations (Scopus)


    Uncertainty exists with respect to the extent to which chewinggum may attenuate stress-induced rises in cortisol secretion ( [Johnson et al., 2011], [Scholey et al., 2009] and [Smith, 2010]). The present study used the Trier Social Stress Task (TSST: Kirschbaum, Pirke, & Hellhammer, 1993), a task known to elevate cortisol secretion (Kudielka, Schommer, Hellhammer, & Kirschbaum, 2004), in order to examine the moderating physiological and subjective effects of chewinggum on social stress. Forty participants completed the TSST either with or without chewinggum. As expected, completion of the TSST elevated both cortisol and subjective stress levels, whilst impairing mood. Although gum moderated the perception of stress, cortisol concentrations were higher following the chewing of gum. The findings are consistent with Smith (2010) who argued that elevations in cortisol following the chewing of gum reflect heightened arousal. The findings suggest that chewinggum only benefits subjective measures of stress. The mechanism remains unclear; however, this may reflect increased cerebral blood flow, cognitive distraction, and/or effects secondary to task facilitation.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)554-558
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012


    • Chewinggum
    • Social stress
    • Cortisol
    • Subjective stress
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