College of Psychology Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PhD)

Department

Center for Psychological Studies

First Advisor

Stephen Campbell

Second Advisor

Edward Simco

Third Advisor

Alexandru Cuc

Keywords

911 emergency tapes, Anxiety, Biofeedback, Empathy, NEO, PTSD

Abstract

The news has become a central part of daily culture in the United States and provides up to date information regarding a vast array of topics from weather to war. A specific aspect of the news, emergency 911 tapes, and their influence on viewers' physiological and psychological health was investigated. Research regarding the relationship between physiological arousal and exposure to brief traumatic stimuli, as well as research addressing the development of pathological psychiatric symptoms are discussed in the literature review. This study examined the relationship between exposure to 911 emergency tapes, physiological arousal, and symptoms of psychopathology while considering the influence of trait personality characteristics and state mood. Results identified significant differences in physiological response to the 911 emergency condition compared to news reports. No significant differences were identified between mood state and arousal except in the instance of respiration rate and negative mood; those with higher scores on negative mood displayed higher levels of respiration. Personality factors and empathy were examined for their predictive value on level of arousal, and yielded insignificant results. Finally, baseline level of PTSD was not significantly correlated with arousal in the 911 condition, except in terms of respiration rate. Future research is required to better understand the arousal as a result of exposure to such media, and the associated psychological and physiological health implications.

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