Title of Project

Does stress hurt everyone? Individual differences in susceptibility to psychosocial stressors

Project Type

Event

Start Date

7-4-2017 12:00 AM

End Date

7-4-2017 12:00 AM

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Apr 7th, 12:00 AM Apr 7th, 12:00 AM

Does stress hurt everyone? Individual differences in susceptibility to psychosocial stressors

Despite the critical role working memory plays in controlling attention, when people experience negative or stressful life events working memory task performance is impaired (Klein & Boals, 2001). Further, daily variation in stress corresponds to variation in working memory performance (Sliwinksi, Smyth, Hofer, & Stawski, 2006). In contrast to robust findings that stress impairs working memory, recent evidence suggests there are individual differences in susceptibility to stress manipulations (Plieger, et al., 2016). To examine this, the current study randomly assigned one hundred NSU undergraduates to either a speech or control condition. Participants in the speech condition gave a three- minute speech about a body part they liked the least. All participants completed two working memory tasks, AOSPAN and three-back, and a state/trait anxiety inventory. A median split was used to create high and low trait anxiety groups. A 2 (condition) x 2 (trait anxiety) ANOVA was conducted to examine difference on the two working memory tasks. A significant interaction between condition and trait anxiety was observed on the AOSPAN, F (1, 72) = 4.53, p < .05, partial η 2 = .06. The high trait anxiety group in the speech condition performed significantly worse than the low trait anxiety group in the speech condition, (t = 2.36, p <.05), and both low and high trait anxiety groups in the control condition (t= 2.12, p <.05; t = 2.46, p <.05, respectively). No interaction was observed on the three-back task, suggesting the two tasks may tap different components of working memory.