Psychology ETDs

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This experiment was concerned with investigating the effectiveness of fingertip skin temperature as an indicator of anxiety and affect arousal. All fingertip skin temperature data was divided into four levels; an anxiety fingertip skin temperature data level, a nonanxiety fingertip skin temperature data level, a decreasing approach to an anxiety level, and an increasing approach to a nonanxiety level. Fifteen subjects were divided into low, medium, and high anxiety groups based on their Taylor Manifest Anxiety Scale Scores. The subjects were attached to the fingertip skin temperature apparatus and 40 minutes of verbal behavior per subject was recorded. The subjects were asked to discuss topics that had caused anxiety and turmoil in their lives. Fingertip skin temperature data was recorded every 30 seconds of verbal behavior. Four dependent verbal measures were employed; the Speech Disturbance Ratio, the Silence Ratio, the Type Token Ratio, and the Discomfort Relief Quotient. Verbal behavior data was divided into 30 second time periods, and the four dependent measure values for each 30 second time period were computed. Final averaged dependent measure values across subjects for each of the four verbal measures for each of the four defined fingertip skin temperature levels were computed, and an analysis of variance done to check for significant differences between the four fingertip skin temperature levels. The fingertip skin temperature anxiety levels dependent measures were all significantly greater than the fingertip skin temperature nonanxiety levels. It was concluded that drops in fingertip skin temperature are indicative of anxiety and affect arousal. The high anxiety subjects tended to have lower fingertip skin temperature data and greater fingertip skin temperature drops than the low anxiety subjects which also supports the fingertip skin temperature-arousal relationship hypothesis. The usefulness of fingertip skin temperature measurement in psychotherapy and as a clinical research tool was discussed, as was the use of noncorrelational analyses in psychophysiological measurement research.

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Level of Degree


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First Committee Member (Chair)

Samuel Roll

Second Committee Member

Alex Thaddeus Quenk

Third Committee Member

John M. Rhodes

Fourth Committee Member

Karl Peter Koenig



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Psychology Commons