Reduction of stress in humans through nonveridical perceived control of aversive stimulation

James H. Geer, Gerald C. Davison, Robert Joseph Gatchel

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In a RT task, 40 male undergraduates were told to react to the onset of a 6-sec shock. Following 10 trials, 1/2 of the Ss were told that by decreasing their RT they would reduce shock duration. Remaining Ss were simply told that shock duration would be reduced. All Ss, regardless of group assignment or RT, received 3-sec shocks in the 2nd 1/2 of the study. During the 2nd 1/2, Ss who believed they had control showed fewer spontaneous skin conductance (SC) responses and smaller SC responses to shock onset than Ss who felt they had no control. Results indicate that perception of effective control, even if not veridical, can affect autonomic responding. (23 ref.) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)731-738
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 1970



  • stress reduction, nonveridical perceived control of aversive stimulation, RT task

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