The Effects of Psychological Stress on ... -

The Effects of Psychological Stress on ... -

The Effects of Psychological Stress on Reaction Time
Jade Vega
University of Maryland University College, Adelphi MD



Psychological stress impacts, and has the potential to impact, many aspects of
individuals lives, including physiological and emotional states. Research
correlating anxiety, sleep deprivation, and other factors which can be closely
aligned with psychological stress, indicate that perhaps psychological stress can
lead to an increase in individual reaction time. This study recruited 100 adult
participants who do not have any diagnosed mental disorders which could be the
cause of their stress. Half of the participants were assessed and placed in a
significantly psychologically stressed group, and half were considered nonsignificantly stressed. Participants then completed a simple, computer-based
reaction time task. Results of the trials, which are inconclusive but suggest future
research is warranted, are presented here.



100 participants in this study who were placed into two equal groups. Group A
was comprised of significantly psychologically stressed persons; Group B
consisted of non-psychologically stressed persons.

Figure 1.1 Mean of psychologically stressed
and non-psychologically stressed reaction times

No individuals with mental disorder diagnoses were included
Two self-assessments- the PSM-9 measure of psychological stress, and a
Perceived Stress Scale
A blood pressure cuff, sphygmomanometer, and stethoscope to measure blood
A cardiovascular belt to measure heart and respiratory rates
Computers to complete the reaction time tasks
Need for research realized Review Board Form submitted and experiment



Participants volunteered via online system; given appointments

Psychological stress produces a number of emotional and physiological
symptoms, although it affects each person differently and occurs in varying
degrees of severity. Research has shown that significant stress can also cause
increases in heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration rates. These- and other
symptoms associated with significant psychological stress- can be distracting to
a person, and thus diminish their ability to react as quickly as unstressed


Individuals were given several assessments to determine which group they
belonged to. First, a psychiatrist conducted short diagnostic interviews to rule
out any individuals who may meet the criteria for a DSM-V psychological
disorder diagnosis.
Remaining participants were administered self-assessments. One of the selfassessments was the PSM-9, a 49-item measure of psychological stress and their
perceptions of recent stressful events. A perceived stress scale consisting of ten
questions, also related to participant perceptions, was also administered.

While several studies have involved researching the effects of stress on reaction
time, few have made the distinction between psychological and physical stress.
In addition, most studies have studied multiple factors and their effects on
reaction time.

Following self-assessments, physiological data (heart rate, blood pressure, and
respiratory rate) were collected, since significant psychological stress may
impact any or all of these (Costin, Rotariu & Psric, 2013).
Overall, participants were placed into the psychologically stressed group if they:
were not experiencing stress as a byproduct or symptom of a psychological
disorder, indicated on self-report measures that they feel overwhelmed with
stress, and had some sort of abnormal physiological rate.

For example, studies have shown that stress increases processing time for language skills (Rai, Loschky, Harris,
Peck, & Cook, 2011)

Participants completed a computer-based simple reaction time task. Each trial
displayed a visual stimulus, and participants were told to react as quickly as
possible to the stimulus (a different color flashing onto the screen) by pressing
any key. Each trial was repeated 20 times.

psychological stress "resulted in a significant decline in the reaction time" to
a specific color in male participants (Venkates, Ramachandra, Baboo & Rajan,
2002, p. 560).
stress in premenstrual phases results in decreased reaction times (Das,
Gandhi, & Mondal, 1997)

A two-sample unpaired t test was performed to calculate the t and p values for
the data. An alpha level of .05 was employed to determine the significance of
the difference.

anxiety tends to result in an increased reaction time (Swann, 2011).
Existing research makes it difficult to draw conclusions about the effects of
psychological stress alone. There is reason to believe that psychological stress
may have a significant impact, however.

The hypothesis of this study is that stress increases reaction time.

Figure 1.2 Statistical Results


Costin, H., Rotariu, C., & Psric, A. (2013). Identification of psychological stress by analyzing
electrocardiographic signal. Environmental Engineering & Management Journal , 12(6), 1255-1263.

Das, S., Gandhi, A., & Mondal, S. (1997). Effect of premenstrual stress on audiovisual reaction time and
audiogram. Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, 41(1).

Rai, M., Loschky, L., Harris, R., Peck, N., & Cook, L. (2011). Effects of stress and working memory capacity on
foreign language readers' inferential processing during comprehension. Language Learning, 187-218.

Swann, J. (2011). Understanding the common triggers and effects of stress. British Journal of Healthcare
Assistants, 5(10).

Venkatesh, D., Ramachandra, D., Baboo, N., & Rajan, B. (2002). Impact of psychological stress, gender and colour
on visual response latency. Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, 46(3).

T test calculations were
performed with
98 degrees of freedom.
The t value for this data was







Standard Error
of Mean


The two-tailed p value of
this data was calculated to
be 0.0516. This is not quite
statistically significant.
However, it is important to
note that this is close to
statistical significance;
future studies may yield
results that indicate a
stronger statistical

This study attempted to discover whether or not non-experimentally induced
psychological stress has an impact on reaction time. While there was a
difference, it is not conventionally considered to be quite statistically significant.
Future research could incorporate:
more reaction time tests, larger sample sizes and perhaps more varied
methods of testing them.
More rigorous assessment methods, such as longer diagnostic interviews
More stress and life event-related self assessments

Recently Viewed Presentations



    DLL UMPIRE TRAINING CLINIC ... provided by DLL EQUIPMENT Face mask Chest protector Shin guards Clicker Plate brush Protective cup SCHEDULING All umps must be registered as a 2011 Spring Umpire DLL website All game assignments will be managed online...
  • Building Java Programs - University of Washington

    Building Java Programs - University of Washington

    Encapsulation provides abstraction. separates external view (behavior) from internal view (state) Encapsulation protects the integrity of an object's data. Benefits of encapsulation Provides abstraction between an object and its clients. Protects an object from unwanted access by clients. A bank...
  • How did Historical Globalization Affect Canada?

    How did Historical Globalization Affect Canada?

    How did Historical Globalization Affect Canada? Learn the Terms Refer to Chapter 7 for the answers Indian Act Status Indian Residential Schools Multiculturalism Cultural pluralism Quiet Revolution Boarding schools where First Nations children were collected to live, work, study and,...

    Presidente Rotary eClub 2050 Bologna 12 Ottobre 2013 LA NASCITA DEGLI eCLUB 4 Gennaio 2002 - Inizia il test con la costituzione del primo Rotary eClub e, come avvenne agli albori del Rotary, anche il primo eClub nasce a Chicago...
  • Diapositive 1 -

    Diapositive 1 -

    EDF fournit toujours Les armoires Eclairage de secours Appareillage ESSAI COPREC Document obligatoire d 'autocontrôle final réalisé par l 'installateur, Le label Promotelec juillet 2002 prend en compte la qualité et la mise en œuvre de la construction et des...
  • The Elements and Principles of Design - Kubu Art

    The Elements and Principles of Design - Kubu Art

    Each work of art can be represented by one or more element. They are like ingredients in a recipe. Line Shape Form Space Color Texture The Principles of Design The Principles of design are how you use the Elements, how...
  • The Main Idea - Bloomfield College

    The Main Idea - Bloomfield College

    The Main Idea Stated or Implied What Is the Main Idea? The main idea is the primary point the author is trying to convey to the reader. The main idea can be stated as a sentence in a paragraph or...
  • Latin II FCA Review - All Things Latin at Milton HS

    Latin II FCA Review - All Things Latin at Milton HS

    17. Caecilius, his factis, laborarecoepit. A. doing these things B. about to do these things . C. with these things having been done