EXPERIMENTAL STUDIES OF PSYCHOLOGICAL STRESS IN MAN.
GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIV ALEXANDRIA VA HUMAN RESOURCES RESEARCH OFFICE
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It is argued that research on the determinants of effectiveness of performance under psychological stress, such as that during combat, must induce in S a cognitive response resulting in the acceptance of a simulated threat as genuine. It should then be possible to measure objectively the level of performance of a task relevant to the stressful environment. This simulated, but apparently real, approach allows for the study of the possible different effect of serious threats to life, as compared with the effects of laboratory stresses such as information overload, electric shock, or achievement-failure. To establish that a given stimulus complex evokes an effect which can safely be assumed to be similar to that elicited by naturally occuring threats, three criteria are proposed. It will be required, first, that Ss choose from a checklist words indicating significantly greater mean negative affect than do those chosen by Ss exposed to a suitable control condition. Second, the distribution of scores made by Experimental Ss must differ either in location or in shape from that of Control Ss on the performance of a threat relevant task. Author