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Title: Effects of self-induced relaxation on autonomic responses and subjective distress of high- and low-neuroticism scorers to aversive baby cries 
Author: Higuchi, Annette A
Date: 1976
Abstract: This study investigated the efficacy of brief training in progressive muscle relaxation and meditation as self-control methods for coping with stress. Individual differences in neuroticism, as well as experimental manipulations of psychological stress, intensity of the stressful stimuli, and type of instruction were also involved in a Training X Neuroticism X Stress X Instruction X Cry Intensity design (4 X 2 X 2 X 2 X 2) with repeated measures on the Instruction and Intensity factors. A total of 64 female college students, randomly assigned to one of four training groups, participated individually in two laboratory sessions and practiced their respective procedures daily during the week between the sessions. The subjects in one experimental group received training in progressive muscle relaxation as an active coping skill, while those in the second experimental group learned a form of meditation as an active coping skill. Subjects in the third group served as controls who were taught identical muscle exercises as the muscle relaxation subjects but without learning to use muscle tension control as a self-relaxation technique. Finally, subjects in the fourth group were controls who practiced sitting quietly for the same period of time and using the method to relax physiological functioning. Each group had equal numbers of high- and low-neuroticism scorers. Each subject experienced either a high or low psychological stress situation, followed by a total of 80 baby cries (40 loud and 40 soft) under two different instructions ("relax" during 40 cries; "pay attention" to 40 cries). The effects of the factors were then evaluated on tonic and phasic autonomic measures and several self-report measures. Although neither muscle relaxation nor meditation resulted in significantly lower autonomic levels than the controls during a relaxation period, the efficacy of brief muscle relaxation training as a coping skill was demonstrated during stressful conditions, relative to one or both of the control groups, and the Meditation group, in terms of reduced autonomic arousal. In contradiction with Eysenck's theory, subjects with low neuroticism scores had significantly higher tonic and phasic autonomic measures than high scorers; in contrast, high-neuroticism scorers had higher self-report ratings on affect states than low scorers. Various interpretations of this discrepancy were presented (e.g., response sets, perceptual differences in recognizing autonomic arousal). It was suggested that the use of more specific individual-difference variables would possible lead to better prediction of autonomic reactivity to stress than a global trait such as neuroticism. The implications of the findings for the treatment of child abusive parents were discussed. Further research involving longer training periods, cognitive variables such as motivation and expectancy of gain, and on the relative efficacy of the combined use of muscle relaxation with a cognitively-oriented approach was recommended.
Description: Typescript. Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Hawaii at Manoa, 1976. Bibliography: leaves 115-122. Microfiche. x, 122 leaves ill
Rights: All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Keywords: Relaxation, Stress (Physiology), Neuroses

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