Reported physical symptoms elicited by unpredictable events and the type A coronary-prone behavior pattern

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
G Weidner, K A Matthews

Abstract

Unpredictable and uncontrollable events are associated with a variety of illnesses. It was hypothesized that unpredictable aversive events are causally linked to physical symptom reporting and that the Type A coronary-prone behavior pattern affects symptom reporting, such that Type A individuals fail to report symptoms when they expect to continue working on a task as compared to when they believe they have completed it. In the present research, Type A and Type B women reported symptoms either at the end or in the middle of listening to unpredictable, predictable or ambient noise in the laboratory. Results showed that unpredictable noise produced more symptom reporting than predictable noise, which in turn produced more symptom reporting than the ambient noise; Type A individuals reported fewer symptoms in the middle of the task than at the end, whereas Type B's did not show this differential effect. Thus, both hypotheses were confirmed. Several possible explanations of the results are offered, and implications of the findings are discussed.

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