Attitude as a Moderator of Autonomic Reactivity
James Blascovich Principal Investigator
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Attitudes are thought to serve many functions. They influence perception and information processing. This proposal seeks to identify a function that to this point has only ben suggested, namely, the facilitative effects of attitudes on decision making in stressful contexts. We know from prior psychophysiological work that tasks involving active coping with threat or challenging evoke greater increments in heart rate, cardiac output, systolic blood pressure, and myocardial contractility. The issue of this research is whether an individual coping with a threat in a situation involving well-established attitudes will show less reactivity than an individual in a novel (attitudinal) setting. The strength of the proposal is that it melds psychophysiological measurement with expertise in attitudinal measurement and induction to provide an answer to this important question. The combination of these two approaches is novel and important, and promises much information on the interaction of social cognition (attitudes) and physiology. This research could add appreciably to out understanding of the effects of stress on human functioning and performance.