Stress has been a subject of intense research over the past few decades. Any holistic understanding of stress requires an interdisciplinary approach. In particular, psychosocial stress studies must include both sociocultural and biochemical variables in their design. In this experiment, a competitive binding immunoassay was used to quantify cortisol samples before and after an exam in undergraduate university students (n = 29). Multiple variables potentially relating to cortisol production and psychosocial stress reactions were assessed using a pre-exam questionnaire. This questionnaire also included a question regarding perceived preparedness before and after the exam. It was hypothesized that a rise in cortisol (signifying a stress response) would correlate with negative change between predicted preparedness for an exam and retrospect preparedness. Out of 29 students, 10 exhibited a rise in cortisol. Of those 10, 9 noted a decrease in confidence after the exam. A contingency table was used to organize data for a Chi2 analysis. It was found that a rise in cortisol was significantly correlated with a negative change in confidence (p < 0.05). Future studies should investigate the roles of corticosteroid binding globulin and other possible variables in salivary cortisol measurement as well as any effects of group study on pre-exam salivary cortisol levels.
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