Description: The proposed study examined the role of anxiety and risk-taking in driving performance in adolescents. In addition to examining the sample as a whole, gender differences were assessed given earlier reports from our laboratory and others indicating that males and females differ with respect to risky behaviors to driving performance and anxiety. Adolescents' subjective and physiological responses to a driving simulator task were assessed. Anxiety was measured via self report and salivary cortisol. Participants provided a baseline saliva sample and 3 post-task samples for cortisol analysis. Subjective anxiety scores were obtained at both baseline and following the driving stressor. Information concerning impulsivity, as well as other psychological constructs was also collected at baseline. Unlike the pilot study, there were no relationships (with or without respect to gender) between salivary cortisol and both self-reported anxiety (state and trait) or impulsively measures for this sample. These results suggest that this group of adolescents may not have been anxious about the driving task. This discrepancy may stem from error introduced by the smaller sample size obtained from the initial findings or to other factors remaining outside the parameters of the current study. The task did, however, induce a slight hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis response indicating some physiological arousal. Males had significantly higher cortisol levels at baseline than females and at time point 3 while approaching significance at time points 2 and 4. Females possessed significantly higher trait anxiety than males and all post task cortisol levels were positively correlated to age while time points 2 and 4 (with time point 3 approaching significance, p=0.09) were inversely correlated with Self Depreciation scores. Additionally, females had Persecutory Ideas scores that were also negatively correlated with cortisol at time points 3 and 4. For both the entire sample and males only, the correlation between post-task ...
Date: August 2000
Creator: Wingo, Mary
Item Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Partner: UNT Libraries