Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Wayne Fuqua

Second Advisor

Dr. Alan Poling

Third Advisor

Dr. Fred Gault


Three experiments were performed to determine the effects of three task variables and Type A behavior pattern on physiological reactivity to time-limited math and anagram tasks. In the first experiment, ten post-coronary patients performed time-limited computer tasks under two performance consequence conditions: Point Reward or presentation of an Auditory Blast combined with two task difficulty conditions (40% and 60% difficult). The findings of Experiment 1 indicated that while the tasks did produce levels of physiological reactivity comparable to those observed in the literature, there were no significant main effects for either variable for any of the five measures. A significant difficulty by consequence interaction was found for skin conductance (EDG). The findings did not provide a demonstration of a statistically reliable interaction between behavior pattern and the consequence or difficulty factors.

Experiment 2 was conducted to evaluate the effects of (a) two task difficulty conditions (10% and 90% difficult) while controlling for the effects of task consequence and (b) the effects of three task consequence conditions Reward, Forced Failure and a no consequence Control while holding task difficulty constant. The results revealed a significant main effect for consequence for systolic blood pressure such that the Reward produced the highest levels of reactivity followed by Forced Failure and then the Control condition. A similar trend was observed for diastolic blood pressure and skin conductance measures but these trends were not statistically significant. No significant behavior pattern by consequence interaction was found for any physiological measure. However, graphic trends suggested that Type B individuals were slightly more reactive across consequence conditions for all measures except frontalis muscle electromyographic (EMG) reactivity.

In Experiment 3, subjects performed three tasks involving social interaction (Impatience, Competition, and Hostility) and two nonsocial tasks (Mental Arithmetic and Computer Arithmetic) while physiological reactivity was monitored. The analysis revealed a group by condition interaction for pulse rate such that Type A subjects' were significantly more pulse rate reactive during Competition than Type B subjects. Although the differences were not significant, social interaction conditions appeared to produce higher elevations than nonsocial conditions for systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, pulse rate and frontalis EMG. Implications for future research concerning the effects of performance consequence and social demands on psychophysiological responses in Type A and B individuals are discussed.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

Included in

Psychology Commons