A COST-REWARD ANALYSIS OF REACTIONS TO EXTREME STRESS.
TEXAS UNIV AUSTIN DEPT OF PSYCHOLOGY
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The report, based on analysis of the data from Project SEALAB II, represents an attempt to apply the costs, rewards and outcomes approach of Thibaut and Kelley 1959 to physically and psychologically stressful situations. The model proposes that persons will enter hazardous or other high cost environments voluntarily because of perceived benefits and that costs tend to be quite stable and rewards highly labile in environments characterized by negative physical stimuli. It is suggested that in developing social systems which are high in such costs, the rewards will decline more rapidly than costs for example, the rewards in terms of prestige and public honors have declined more rapidly for successive Astronauts than have the costs in terms of physical hazard. This relatively rapid decline of rewards in comparison with costs can be expected to have negative effects on performance and adjustment in such situations and on volunteer and retention rates as well. The leadership role in relation to the cost-reward structure is analyzed and evidence in support of the model is cited. Author