Research on Post-exam Stress

In this study scientists took 78 young adults (male) who they had given health questionnaires before their first session to detect any medical conditions that could affect the results of the study and divided them into two groups, a stress group and a control group. If any individual had a health factor that hindered their ability to participate in the study they were denied participation, but those who could receive either credit towards their education or hourly monetary payment as compensation for their help.

As the basis for their study, scientists chose to induce mild acute stress on individuals to determine its effect on memory performance while also seeing if it had any connection to images that were emotionally arousing. In doing so, participants were exposed to highly arousing negative, minimally arousing negative, and neutral images to test how each of the subjects would respond. During the morning as people awake, the endogenous cortisol levels within the body are at their highest peak and throughout the day they slowly diminish as the day goes on.

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As for the second study of the effects of stress on memory, a scientist in this study took seventy college students (35 men & 35 women) with no prior health issues and used them as their test groups. After providing written consent, participants who could participate in the study received a small compensation for providing their assistance. As far as the steps taken for the test most of them correlated with those taken in the first study. Participants were tested around the same time between 1 and 6 pm just as the first and participants still weren’t allowed to consume any food or beverage 1 hour prior to each experimental session.

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As far as the steps taken for the test most of them correlated with those taken in the first study. Participants were tested around the same time between 1 and 6 pm just as the first and participants still weren’t allowed to consume any food or beverage 1 hour prior to each experimental session.

When preparing to begin the experiment, the participants had to first be trained how to navigate within a 3D virtual environment. This was just a keyboard and a basic computer game editor software (Conitec, Gamestudio, Germany) that they practiced with to learn how to pick up four balls by using the up, down, left, and right arrow keys. Directly after the training had been completed, 16 men and 16 women were exposed to a form of stress or controlled manipulation. SECPT or the Socially Evaluated Cold Pressor Test is a standardized stress protocol in which scientists mix some type of physical stressor with social evaluative components which leads to participants being directed to submerge their right hand to waist height in a bucket of ice water for as long as possible. The maximum duration that was allotted was 3 minutes total. While submerging their hands in the bucket of ice water a frigid experimenter during this time sat and videotaped them. As for the 16 men and 15 women within the control group they to were told to submerge their right hand to wrist height in warm water for 3 minutes as well, but in this case there was no experimenter to monitor or videotape their trial. For the tests conducted in experiment one, scientists decided to focus on the basis of if you induce mild acute stress on individuals does it have any effect on memory performance as well as its connection to emotional images.

When beginning the testing trials participants’ cortisol levels were suspected to be slightly increased, but due to the stress that scientists would induce during each task of the study, the participant’s levels were wanted low during the beginning of the testing phase. Between 1 – 6 pm or the afternoon period of the day was the most favorable time for the tests to take place in which participants completed a practice encoding task consisting of 10 trials in about an hour and a half. Next after viewing 75 minimally arousing negative images, 75 highly arousing negative images, and 75 neutral images that were broken into 5 blocks of 15 images from each category, each of the participants had a sample of their saliva taken. Following this three trials of seven-minute runs of either controlled or experimental conditions of a procedure used to induce subtle psychological stress called MIST took place, followed by a second sample of saliva being collected. Directly after each individual completed the Montreal Imaging Stress Task or MIST test, participants were prompted to solve a series of arithmetic problems within a set time limit while also being in a condition of stress to measure if their achievement in the tasks would correspond with that of the average user. In connection with Metacognition information we learned in class by analyzing how each participant reacts to the various images they are being shown analyzation of metamemory must be incorporated as well to see how participants feel after evaluating each picture and determine its meaning. I think the reasoning behind all of this task is to ultimately test the brain’s emotional intelligence along with how it corresponds under factors of stress.

Session two consisted of approximately the same aspects as the first, 225 images from the prior encoding task along with 225 new images that were minimally arousing negative, highly arousing negative, and neutral. In one hour participants completed a practice task of 10 trials and then just as the first had a first saliva sample collected after. Then a second MIST test was conducted and lastly the final collection of a second saliva sample. In the end, scientists analyzed the visual data from participants encoding tasks and used it to determine how much visual detail participants remembered from each trials category. As for experiment two, this study focused on blood pressure and sex hormones in both males and females. Scientists exposed participants to a test called SECPT while also using controlled manipulation as participants completed a computer S-R learning task. The navigation task of the study in the real environment always took place at the end of the first testing day and participants would have their memory of the three tasks tested on the second experimental day.

The navigation task is a 3D virtual maze built by scientists and was used to test their experiment on participants. In the maze was a wooden arm that contained three wooden hollows which held an object such as a book, cake, or bag. The objective of the task was for participants to collect these objects in a specific sequence given by scientists and as quickly as possible. To navigate their way throughout the maze participants used the directional pad of a keyboard in order to collect the objects. When testing on the first day ceased scientists led the participants along a 70 meter, 15 fork, pre-determined route throughout the psychology building at Ruhr-University Bochum. While walking this route and the individuals were informed that they would need to revisit this same route on day two of testing. When beginning day two of testing seven days later, participants’ had their prior memory of each of the learning tasks they engaged in testing. In doing so two of the same computer-based tasks they completed on day one of testing was given again to participants on day two. Lastly to finish up scientists had tested participants on their knowledge of retrieving the route within the psychology building that they had navigated seven days prior.

By connecting with notes from class if participants have good neural speed and it is efficient they should be able to easily travel the same path as they did before, but they make any mistakes such as taking a wrong turn it shall be counted as an error. In essence, I feel as if this could connect to Pavlov’s classical conditioning that we covered in class due to associating the stimuli of learning to the tasks they are training to complete. There are different traits and abilities we can inherit, but most of the things we are capable of doing are taught/learned. As a result of obtaining this knowledge participants are given a skill they will always possess and be able to use at any given time it is needed. The more tactics we can possess the more strategies we are able to take advantage of but in knowing we are able to take advantage of these tactics we must first have knowledge of which one’s to use and when to use them. Improper use of these will yield a result of improper strategies. Along with this metacognition can be incorporated as well due to evaluating what they learn from their participation as well as how well they implement their newfound information. In conclusion of each experiment of study two, men had an overall higher systolic blood pressure compared to women when looking at sex differences but the stressor caused no difference within the blood pressures.

The only change noted was within the systolic and diastolic blood pressure being greatly increased due to the use of SECPT. Salivary cortisol increased significantly only in response to the stressor while the Peak cortisol levels were reached 20 min after the stressor exposure. On day 1 the individual group’s baseline cortisol did not differ, but before the day 2 retention testing the individuals of the stress group possessed a lower cortisol number in relation to those of the control group. On average, the number of learning trials between men and women that were required for those who were stressed did not differ. However, the stressed group did tend to obtain trials in order to reach the criterion as opposed to those of the controlled group. In the end 28 participants 17 from the stress group and 11 from the control group did not reach the learning criterion of two error-free trials. All of the studies and tasks for each of the two separate studies in some way connected to some topic we covered in class, whether that be metacognition or general intelligence of a person. Stress can pose as a factor in how well we can recall information or events in our memory, but other factors can assist in this loss as well. If we limit the amount of stress we induce on our brain ourselves then we can help slow the effects it has on memory as well as help decrease other factors produced from this.

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Research on Post-exam Stress. (2021, Dec 23). Retrieved from

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