Title page for ETD etd-05292004-105810

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Mollet, Gina Alice
Author's Email Address gmollet@vt.edu
URN etd-05292004-105810
Title Hostility and Negative Emotion: Implications for Verbal Learning and Cardiovascular Regulation
Degree Master of Science
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Harrison, David W. Committee Chair
Crawford, Helen J. Committee Member
Friedman, Bruce H. Committee Member
  • primacy effect
  • verbal learning
  • Affective Auditory Verbal Learning Test
  • Cook Medley Hostility Scale
  • cold pressor
  • negative emotion
  • hostility
  • cardiovascular regulation
  • postive emotion
Date of Defense 2004-05-17
Availability unrestricted
Hostility is a multidimensional construct that has been extensively studied. It has been shown

that hostility affects cognitive (Shimojima et al., 2003), behavioral (Prkachin & Silverman,

2002), visual (Herridge, Mollet, Harrison, & Shenal, in press), somatosensory (Herridge,

Harrison, & Demaree, 1997a), auditory (Demaree & Harrison, 1997a), motor (Demaree et al.,

2002) and pre-motor functioning (Williamson & Harrison, 2003). In order to extend and

integrate the present literature on hostility and the effects of negative emotional state on

cognition, the present investigation used a cold pressor to induce a negative emotional/pain state

in high and low hostile participants and measured. The subsequent effects on the acquisition of

the Auditory Affective Verbal Learning Test (AAVLT; Snyder & Harrison, 1997) were measured. Blood pressure (BP) readings were taken before and after the cold pressor to examine cardiovascular regulation in high and low hostiles. Further, before the first trial participants were

asked to predict the number of words that they would be able to recall on the first trial. After

completion of the experiment participants were asked to estimate their performance relative to

other participants. The measures were used to assess self-awareness in high and low hostile

participants, which may be impaired in high hostile individuals (Demaree & Harrison, 1997b).

As expected, high hostiles learned negative emotional words significantly better than they

learned positive words. Additionally, high hostiles were impaired in their acquisition of verbal

material relative to low hostile participants. Low hostile participants learned more words faster

and reached asymptote sooner. A significant primacy effect for negative emotional words and an

overall better recall of negative information was found. Analysis on each of the four groups of the experiment indicated that participants in the

cold pressor group performed similar to the high hostile participants. The cold pressor facilitated

negative learning and also slowed verbal learning relative to the no cold pressor group.

It was predicted that high and low hostiles would differ on baseline measures of systolic

blood pressure (SBP), diastolic blood pressure (DBP), and heart rate (HR) and that they would

demonstrate increased cardiovascular reactivity in response to the cold pressor. These hypotheses

were not supported. Self-awareness measures also failed to produce significance.

These results support the proposal that high hostiles differ from low hostiles in a number

of modalities. They demonstrate the persistence of negative emotional material. Future work

should address what kinds of implications these factors have on high hostiles in daily


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