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Title:Anxiety and the mental representation of events
Author(s):Ahadi, Stephan Ahad
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Wyer, Robert S., Jr.
Department / Program:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Psychology, Social
Psychology, Personality
Abstract:Temperaments can influence the development of adult personality through their effects on the content and structure of the mental representations people form of their personal experiences (Fuhrman & Ahadi, 1989). The present study investigated whether subjects' experiences in a moderately stressful performance situation are encoded and stored in long-term memory differently as a function of their trait or chronic levels of anxiety. Subjects performed a cognitively demanding task that was represented to them as a measure of intelligence. In addition, performance norms were manipulated. Subjects' chronic anxiety increased the degree of distress and worry or fear evidenced in subjects' representations of the situation, and also the level of detail in which the situation was represented. It did not, however, appear to influence either the cognitive content of the representation or the organization of the event in memory.
Other factors also affected the event representations that subjects formed. Giving subjects high performance norms appeared to increase the level of distress that characterized their representation of the performance situation and also the detail with which the representation was encoded. These effects were similar to the effects of chronic anxiety. High levels of test performance appeared to decrease the degree of distress and worry that characterized subjects' representations of the event. Because the representations subjects formed of an event differed as a function of both personality and situational variables, it was concluded that event representations might serve as a common mediator of the effects of person and situation on behavior.
Issue Date:1991
Rights Information:Copyright 1991 Ahadi, Stephan Ahad
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9210719
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9210719

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