THE RELATION BETWEEN MANIFEST ANXIETY AND RATE OF EYEBLINK IN A STRESS SITUATION.
CENTRAL INST FOR THE DEAF ST LOUIS MO
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Rate of eyeblink can be used an an index of generalized muscular tension. It has been found that in certain learning situations anxious individuals exhibit a large amount of muscular tension as compared with non-anxious individuals. The present experiment was designed to determine 1 whether blink-rate increases in a verbal stress situation, and 2 whether blink-rate responses in this situation are positively related to anxiety level. A free association test of 17 words was administered to 24 naval aviation cadets. The test was made up of words classified as stressful, mildly stressful, and non-stressful. Eyeblink responses to each word were determined, and several measures of blink rate were correlated with two measures of anxiety level - the Taylor Anxiety Scale and the Saslow Screening Inventory. The words classified as stressful evoked a significantly larger number of eyeblinks than the words classified as non-stressful. There was a significant positive correlation between blink-rate response to stressful and anxiety level as measured by the Saslow Screening Inventory. Anxiety level was uncorrelated with response to non-stressful words. Verbal stress thus appears to produce increased muscular tension, and anxious individuals exhibit more tension than non-anxious individuals in response to verbal stress stimuli but not in response to neutral verbal stimuli. Author