Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
The present study investigated the effects of misattributed physiological arousal on experienced anxiety and subjective arousal. Cantor, Zillmann, and Bryant (1975) and Zillmann, Johnson, and Day (1974) found that unperceived exercise- induced arousal led to increases in sexual excitement and anger and aggression, respectively. In the main experiment, 29 men and 27 women were randomly assigned to one of three groups. Subjects were tested individually. The first group of subjects viewed the four violent (frightening) film segments and rated them according to their self-perceived arousal, excitement, and anxiety induced after each segment. Measurements of pulse rate and blood pressure were taken after each segment. They then viewed a 10 minute neutral tape while seated on an exercise bicycle equipped with an ergonometer and then viewed the four frightening (violent) film segments and rated them as before. The subject pedaled the cycle for one minute while viewing the neutral tape. The subject in group 1 pedaled during the ninth minute of the neutral tape and was expected to be aware of his or her physiological arousal. Subjects in Groups 2 and 3 also did the above, but subjects in Group 2 pedaled the bicycle for one minute at four minutes into the tape and were not expected to be aware of their residual physiological arousal when viewing the second set of films, and subjects in Group 3 pedaled the cycle for one minute at the beginning of the tape and were not expected to be physiologically aroused when viewing the second set of films. Although it was expected that subjects in Group 2 would show significantly higher amounts of anxiety than Groups 1 and 3 and that Group 1 would show significantly higher amounts of anxiety than Group 3, this was not the case. While the predicted main effect for Group occurred (Wilk's [lambda] = .419, Approx. F (12,78) = 3.14, p < .001), this effect was not consistent, as the subjective measures of arousal did not approach significance. Further analyses showed that Group 2 was not different from Groups 1 and 3 (Wilk's [lambda] = .866, F (6,39) = 1.00 , p > .05). While Group 1 was significantly different from Group 3 (Wilk's [lambda] = .478, F (6,39) = 7.09, p < .001), this was due to differences in physiological arousal only. It was found that while male subjects displayed tendencies to misattribute unperceived physiological arousal, female subjects consistently categorized the films by type across the three groups, with the frightening segments rated higher on the subjective measures of arousal than the violent segments. A discussion of the obtained results was then undertaken.
Copyright 1989 Quintin E. Poore
Poore, Quinton E., "Enhancement of Anxiety and Subjective Arousal Due to Misattribution of Unrelated Physiological Arousal" (1989). Master's Theses. 2121.