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The effects of facial expressivity and cognitive attention on response to stress : comparisons of facial expressivity and cognitive attention, of natural and instructed strategies, and of concurrent and resultant relations


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Bakker, Gerbrandus Maria (1983) The effects of facial expressivity and cognitive attention on response to stress : comparisons of facial expressivity and cognitive attention, of natural and instructed strategies, and of concurrent and resultant relations. Coursework Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Previous research on the effect of facial
expressivity upon autonomic and self-reported arousal
to stress has found an inverse relationship when data
from observations of natural responses are correlated,
supporting the Discharge theories of emotion, and a
positive relationship when expressivity is experimentally
manipulated, supporting the Proprioceptive theories of
emotion. The present review suggested that if the
concept of discharge is assumed to refer to a proportional
decrease in arousal over time, rather than an inverse
relationship among concurrent modes of response, then
the dichotomy in previous findings will disappear when
expressive and autonomic measures are taken at exactly
the same time (concurrent effects), thereby avoiding the
effects of discharge phenomena (resultant effects). Similarly, while instructions to cognitively
attend to a threat have consistently resulted in greater
autonomic or self-reported arousal, studies observing the
relationship between natural cognitive attention/avoidance
and such arousal have produced mixed results. It has
been suggested that an overriding variable such as level of
perceived threat may in natural conditions simultaneously
affect attention and subjective anxiety in opposite
directions. The same issue of confusion of discharge
effects may however also be relevant here.
This investigation therefore sought to compare
the effects of natural and manipulated cognitive and expressive behaviour on clearly distinguished concurrent
and resultant indices of arousal.
It was also possible to assess the possibility
that natural expressive or cognitive tendencies affect
response to instructions in each respective area.
Finally, several authors have discussed the
possibility that either concurrent uncontrolled expression
or cognitive behaviour could explain the results of
studies manipulating or observing the other. Therefore,
the relative impact of simultaneous cognitive and facial
activity was assessed. Four trials of electric shock with 20 second
warning were administered to 24 subjects under no specific
coping instructions (Part One). In each case this was
followed by eight trials under instructions to facially
express and cognitively attend, express and avoid, hide
and attend, or hide and avoid (Part Two). In both parts
anticipatory self-reported anxiety, heart rate increase,
respiration rate increase, and SC increase from baseline
were measured (concurrent indices), as were change in heart
rate, respiration rate, and SC from anticipatory to postshock
levels (resultant indices). In Part One anticipatory
cognitive attention/avoidance was assessed by questionnaire,
and facial expression for the same period by raters of
video recordings. Degree of compliance with facial and
cognitive instructions in Part Two was determined by these
same means.

Item Type: Thesis (Coursework Master)
Keywords: Stress (Psychology), Stress (Physiology)
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 1983 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Thesis (M. Psych.)--University of Tasmania, 1984

Date Deposited: 25 Nov 2014 00:43
Last Modified: 04 May 2016 06:27
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