Performance in Emotionally Stressful Tasks : an Investigation into Potential Sex Differences
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
The current investigation focuses on sex differences in the appraisal of stress and emotional processing. It is hypothesized that men and women vary greatly in performance on stressful tasks, in terms of physiological arousal patterns and self-reports on subjective stress experiences. Two sets of short vigilance tasks were individually completed by 40 participants, one in a negative and the other in a neutral picture stimuli condition. Participants also completed three stress state questionnaires; one prior to the vigil, another between the two sets and the final one after the vigil. Additionally, physiological brain activity was measured using a neuroimaging technique. The results revealed the impact of emotions, in particular negative stimuli, on task performance, physiological arousal and stress states. Men and women only significantly differed in their subjective ratings of stress. Explanations and implications are discussed with reference to gender socialization patterns.