Title page for ETD etd-06102012-040231

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author McDowell, Christine L
URN etd-06102012-040231
Title The relationship of coping and choice to verbal memory and behavioral reactivity
Degree Master of Science
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Winett, Richard A. Committee Chair
Axsom, Daniel K. Committee Member
Harrison, David W. Committee Member
  • Control (Psychology)
Date of Defense 1988-11-05
Availability restricted
Evidence suggests that individuals cope with stressful life events

more effectively if they believe that they are in control of their

environment. Rotter's Locus of Control is a measure of this belief about

personal control. An individual with an internal locus of control would be

more likely to believe that events are contingent on his or her behavior,

and could thus be expected to feel more in control of his or her

environment than an external locus of control individual. In addition to

locus of control, it has been shown experimentally that allowing subjects

to make a choice about outcomes also leads to enhanced perception of

control in individuals. To test the hypothesis that perceived control will

lead to better performance on a stressful memory task, and that individuals who believe they are in control will employ more problemfocused

and fewer emotion-focused coping strategies, 60 undergraduate

students from introductory psychology were given three lists of words to

memorize and recall. Subjects were assigned to one of four groups:

Internal/choice, Internal/No choice, External/Choice, External/No Choice. Blood pressure and heart rate were taken for a behavioral

reference. While subjects in the internal lOcus of control condition and

the choice condition performed better than those in the external and nochoice

condition, as predicted, results did not reach statistical

significance. However, it was shown that internal locus of control subjects

used significantly fewer avoidance coping responses than external locus of

control subjects, and that there were significant differences in the number

of coping responses recalled from memory and from immediately after the


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