Information, choice, and reactions to stress: A field experiment in a blood bank with laboratory analogue

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Two experiments examined the effects of various operations of personal control on reactions to stress. Exp I with 40 17–50 yr old blood donors incorporated 2 features into the blood-drawing procedure at a blood bank: providing donors with accurate information and allowing donors to choose the arm to be used. Measurement of nurses' actions to prevent donors from fainting and self-reports of discomfort indicated that the combination of choice and information was somewhat effective in reducing distress. However, providing either information or choice alone was more effective. In Exp II, using a cold pressor stimulus as stressor, 44 undergraduates given a choice (the option to terminate the aversive stimulus and choice of hand used) showed a reduction of aftereffects on a measure of attention to detail. Ss given information but not choice also showed this reduction. Combining information and choice was no different from either treatment alone. Results of both studies indicate that moderate levels of choice and information are optimal for coping with stress. An explanation is suggested, based on a contextually determined relationship among choice, information, and perceived control. (23 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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