ERIC Number: ED263474
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1985-Aug
Reference Count: N/A
The Effects of Arousal on Cognitive Complexity.
Paulhus, Delroy L.; Lim, David T. K.
Previous work has demonstrated the importance of Osgood's three semantic dimensions (Evaluation, Potency, Activity) in people's conceptions of various domains. To test the effects of arousal on how individuals use these dimensions, three studies were conducted. In each study, six stimuli from a particular domain were presented in pairs. Subjects rated how similar one stimulus was to the other, while being exposed to loud or soft white noise. In study one on the social domain, 28 male undergraduate students judged the similarities of six of their acquaintances; in study two subjects rated similarities of university courses; and in study three they rated self-roles. The results showed that a high level of arousal induced by the loud noise acted to reduce subjects' cognitive complexity. For the social domains (acquaintances and self-roles), high arousal led to increased use of the "Like-Dislike" (Osgood's Evaluation) dimension. For the non-social domain (university courses), arousal enhanced the use of the arts versus science dimension. In all three studies, arousal inflated the importance of the primary dimension of judgment. Arousal enhanced the importance of evaluation only in domains where evaluation was the primary dimension to begin with, i.e., the two social domains. The reduction of complexity under stress is viewed as an adaptive mechanism suggesting that given an affective threat, a normally open-minded person may exhibit simplistic thinking based primarily on evaluative consideration. (Author/NRB)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A