Role of cognitive appraisal in the recovery from stress
Harrick, Lynn P.
Master of Arts
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The present study examined the effects of cognitive appraisal on heart rate recovery from a psychological stressor. Forty introductory psychology students were randomly assigned to either a threat or challenge condition. Both groups performed the Stroop Colour-Word Conflict Task for one minute. Following this, subjects in the challenge condition received positive feedback concerning their performance and were encouraged to try for an even better score. In contrast, emphasis in the threat condition was on the difficulty of the task and the need to increase their speed and concentration in order to achieve a better score on their second try. The task was then performed again for a three minute period. Heart rate was monitored before, during, and after performance of the task. Results showed that the threat group displayed higher cardiovascular arousal during the task. However, contrary to expectations, the threat group exhibited significantly faster heart rate recovery than the challenge group.