Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


In this study an attempt was made to induce temporary depressed, happy, and neutral mood states in college students using a between-subjects design. The students were then tested for self-control by making repeated choices for either a large, delayed reinforcer (the self-control choice), or a smaller, immediate reinforcer (the impulsive choice). Depressed people and experimental subjects with induced depressed affect have been shown to perceive subjective time as passing more slowly than non-depressed persons. Previous research has shown that subjects exposed to a learned helplessness setting event make fewer self-control choices than non-exposed subjects. As self-control involves making choices for a future benefit and learned helplessness, which can be conceptualized as a type of "induced depression", decreases self-control, it was expected that subjects given a self-referent depressed mood induction procedure would also show decreased self-control. However, subjects exposed to the self-referent depressed mood induction procedure did not make fewer self-control choices than the subjects exposed to either the happy or neutral mood induction procedures. Group means were roughly identical regardless of mood condition or sex. Overall, the results indicate that the mood induction procedure failed to produce any significant differences in self-control choices by the subjects. The negative findings may be due to the use of a relatively brief mood induction procedure that may not have produced the mood states reliably. The experimenter was not present during the mood induction procedure and the self-referent statements were presented via a computer screen, therefore, demand characteristics that may be necessary to induce self-referent mood states may not have been present to the extent required.


Stephen Flora

Date of Award

Summer 1993

Document Type

Thesis - campus only access


© 1993 Shantel Lindsay-Randolph


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