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Title: Cognitive appraisal, coping and cardiovascular reactivity
Author: Zanstra, Ydwine Jieldouw
ISNI:       0000 0001 3576 7963
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2008
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In the laboratory, prior research has shown that cognitive appraisals of challenge and threat are predictive of differential hemodynamic response patterns during stressor exposure.  Participants who appraise a stressor as a challenge showed a myocardial (heart-mediated) response.  On the other hand, threat appraisal has been shown to be associated with a vascular hemodynamic response pattern. The first aim of the current dissertation was to test whether these relationships between cognitive appraisal and hemodynamic responding generalise to a real-life stressful situation. Stressor exposure was found to elicit both myocardial and vascular response patterns in association with challenge and threat appraisal, respectively.  Thus, this study showed that these patterns can be observed in real life.  In addition, the threat-related increases in vascular responding that were observed in real life were substantial. Thus, these data suggest that interventions aimed at attenuating threat appraisals or enhancing challenge appraisals may potentially affect cardiovascular health.  Therefore, the next aim was to examine whether cognitive appraisals can be manipulated.  Using a bias induction paradigm, participants were trained to interpret emotionally ambiguous situation descriptions as either a challenge or as a threat, depending on experimental condition. Evidence, was obtained in one out of two studies suggesting a bias in cognitive appraisal had been induced successfully. The aim of the final study was to experimentally manipulate appraisal as well as hemodynamic reactivity.  In this experiment, participants received either challenging or threatening task instructions.  Subsequently, participants performed four consecutive mental arithmetic tasks.  Data were analysed using a within- and between-subjects design.  Cognitive appraisal was significantly affected by the experimental manipulation; however, the hemodynamic reaction patterns were not. Some evidence was found suggesting a role for effort expenditure in relation to task difficulty.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available