Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Allen, Jon G.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Adjustment (Psychology); Stress (Physiology)


The examination of adaptation of the stress reaction to threaten­ing stimuli was posited as one approach to the investigation of the cogni­tive mediation of stress. The approach-avoidance dimension has been used as one means of characterizing the manner in which individuals appraise a threatening stimulus. The effects of trait-defined and situationally induced approach-avoidance tendencies on stress adaptation was investi­gated. Ninety male college students were divided into groups of "repressors," "intermediates" and "sensitizers" on the basis of their scores on Byrne's (1963) Repression-Sensitization (R-S) scale. Subjects from each of the three R-S groups were exposed to one of three treatments while experiencing a series of 15 brief, low-intensity electric shocks. The "avoidance" group read a short story which promoted avoidance of thoughts of shock. The "approach" group read a short story which promoted attention to thoughts of shock. The "rumination" group was simply instructed to sit quietly while receiving shock. During the series of shocks, measures of subjects’ heart rate, basal skin resistance and skin conductance change to shock were obtained. A measure of retrospective, self-reported stress was obtained following the shock series. Results on all measures indicated that subjects who were allowed to ruminate exhibited greatest adaptation to stress. Repressors claimed the least overall stress among R-S groups on measures of self-report, yet there were no differences in overall stress among R-S groups on physiological indices.


Includes bibliographical references (pages 82-87)


116 pages




Northern Illinois University

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