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Personality resources and stress reactivity : potential mechanisms in stress-related psychopathology

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Personality resources and stress reactivity : potential mechanisms in stress-related psychopathology

Salerno, Frank (2000) Personality resources and stress reactivity : potential mechanisms in stress-related psychopathology. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

The aim of the present study was to explore processes potentially implicated in the formation of symptoms of psychopathology. It was hypothesized that the "adaptiveness" of the individual is reflected in stress-related patterns of mood change, cardiac activity, and selective attention. Cognitive adaptiveness to stress was defined by a profile of five personality traits: locus of control, self-efficacy, self-esteem, optimism, and anxiety. The sample consisted of 38 normally functioning university students who were assigned the stress-inducing task of preparing and presenting a speech for evaluation by a panel of "judges". Stress was assessed via a mood questionnaire and heart rate. Selective attention was evaluated using a reaction time computer task in which participants responded to a dot appearing in the spatial location formerly occupied by either a threat or neutral cue (dot probe task). Faster latencies to dot probes replacing threat cues indicate attentional bias to threat. In general, the results supported the hypothesis that individual differences in adaptiveness affect stress reactions in ways that could increase the risk of psychopathology. Specifically, it was found that: (a) individuals low in adaptiveness reported more stress-related mood lowering than those high in adaptiveness, even after differences prior to stress were statistically controlled; (b) low adaptives avoided threat cues more than high adaptives in anticipation of an imminent threat; (c) low adaptives showed more instability in selective attention patterns than high adaptives; and (d) the greater the stress-related physiological arousal, the better the mood in high adaptives. The implications of these findings are discussed in the context of risk and psychopathology.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Psychology
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Salerno, Frank
Pagination:ix, 114 leaves ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Theses (M.A.)
Program:Psychology
Date:2000
Thesis Supervisor(s):Schwartzman, Alex E
ID Code:1320
Deposited By:Concordia University Libraries
Deposited On:27 Aug 2009 13:18
Last Modified:08 Dec 2010 10:19
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