The present study examined whether cardiovascular habituation to stress is affected by a change in the physical context in which a stressor is encountered. Twenty-five undergraduate students at the University of Central Florida, Palm Bay Campus, were exposed to 4 trials of a stressor consisting of mental arithmetic while under evaluative observation. It was hypothesized that if participants experienced a change in the physical context in which stress was experienced on the final trial, they would demonstrate impaired habituation to stress as indicated by measures of heart rate and blood pressure. Physical context was manipulated by either asking participants to move to another room upon the final exposure to the stressor or to remain in the same room in which they were initially exposed to the stressor for the final exposure. Participants were randomly assigned to one of 2 conditions, the Stable Room Condition (N = 10) or Novel Room condition (N = 15 ). Participants in the Stable Room Condition remained in the same physical context, or same room, throughout all trials and displayed habituation of systolic .blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, and heart rate. Participants in the Novel Room condition were exposed to the same stressors, but were moved to a different physical context, or new room upon the final trial. The results demonstrated that participants in the novel room condition displayed significantly impaired habituation on measures on systolic blood pressure (p < .001) and diastolic blood pressure (p < .001). However, no significant difference in heart rate was observed between groups. These results indicate that a simple change in the physical context in which stress exposure occurs impairs cardiovascular habituation to stress. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.
Whitten, Shannon N.
Bachelor of Science (B.S.)
College of Sciences
Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences; Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic
Length of Campus-only Access
Honors in the Major Thesis
Palmer, Kevin M., "Change of Physical Context Impairs Cardiovascular Habituation to Stress" (2008). HIM 1990-2015. 747.