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October 1957

Visual Discrimination and the Decision Process in Anxiety

Author Affiliations


From the Institute for Psychosomatic and Psychiatric Research and Training of the Michael Reese Hospital.

AMA Arch NeurPsych. 1957;78(4):425-438. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1957.02330400099013

This paper deals with the relationship between anxiety and perceptual functioning, studied as part of a larger investigation of concomitant variations among several selected aspects of affective, psychological, and physiological functioning under the impact of experimentally induced anxiety. Here we shall be concerned principally with the changes in perceptual behavior, measured in the accuracy and speed of visual discrimination, over a number of days during which anxiety-prone patients were subjected to anxiety-provoking interviews. The theoretical and methodological rationale of the larger study, and the details of the experimental design and of other variables studied have been described elsewhere.1

The basic experiment covered a four-day period. On the first of these days, anxiety-prone and anxious subjects, selected from the patients of a psychiatric hospital, were brought to the laboratory and given each of the test procedures. This day (the pre-experimental day) was designed to accustorn subjects to the laboratory and