Date of Award

12-1974

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Psychology

Major Professor

Kenneth Newton

Committee Members

Leo F. Droppleman, Wilhelmina Simmons, James A. Black

Abstract

Subjects were given bogus test results that indicated they would be either "relatively calm" or "highly anxious" in a speaking situation. They were also given either an anxiety-okay belief or an anxiety-not-okay belief. The expectations and beliefs given subjects by the experimenter were called manipualted expectations and beliefs. Subjects also filled out forms indicating whether they expected to be calm or anxious and whether they believed anxiety was or was not okay. The expectations and beliefs of the subject were called prior expectation and beliefs.

Each subject was given an expectation and a belief and then requested to make a three minute speech before the experimenter and his two assistants. During the speech, four measures of anxiety were taken: a self-rating scale, two behavioral measures, and a physiological measure. The following results were found:

  1. Subjects with a prior expectation of being calm exhibited significantly less anxiety on self-rating and two behavioral scales of anxiety than those given anxious expectations. Although in the expected direction, there was no significant differences on finger sweat print anxiety.
  2. Those subjects given a calm expectation by the experimenter were significantly less anxious on self-rated ..anxiety than those given an anxious expectation. There were no significant differences on the other anxiety measures.
  3. There were no significant differences between the belief message given, either prior or manipulated, and any of the anxiety outcome measures. However, all relationships were in the expected direction.
  4. Belief was a significant factor in self-rated anxiety when its interaction with expectation was analyzed. In combination with the calm expectation, subjects given an anxiety-okay message were significantly less anxious than subjects given an anxiety-not-okay message. However, in combination with the anxiety expectation, there was no significant difference between subjects given an anxiety-okay or an anxiety not-okay message.

An analysis of the results indicated that expectation manipulations may be important first steps which increase the likelihood of persons putting themselves in feared situations. Once in such situations, the effects of habituation. reinforcement, and repetition of expectations might then influence behavioral and physiological measures of anxiety initially unresponsive to expectation and belief manipulations.

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