Watch Your Temper
Sponsored by Missouri Western State University Sponsored by a grant from the National Science Foundation DUE-97-51113
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The proper APA Style reference for this manuscript is:
ADAMS, C. J. (2003). Watch Your Temper. National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse, 6. Available online at Retrieved April 25, 2017 .

Watch Your Temper
Missouri Western State University DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHOLOGY

Sponsored by: Brian Cronk (
The purpose of the study was to see if a high-pitched noise would affect the concentration of the participants causing them to be frustrated. There have been studies that have shown the relationship between external stimuli on frustration and the ability to concentrate on a difficult task. Some studies have explained that test anxiety plays a role in the ability to do well on a test and that there are certain internal and external factors that correlate with frustration. In this study there were 16 (2 male and 14 female) students that took place in the study. All of the participants took a pretest and a posttest to measure the amount of frustration they were experiencing at the time. There were eight students that were used as a control group and eight students that were used as an experimental group. The results of the experiment found that the high-pitched noise had no effect on the ability to concentrate. The significance for the pretest was .681 and the significance for the posttest was .473. These were both compared to a .05 level of significance. A different outcome may have resulted if there were more participants in the study. By changing the environment in which the participants were in and changing the external stimuli, I also believe there would be a different outcome in the study.

There are many situations that a person can get frustrated at. Whether it is at the work place or just taking a test. The Webster dictionary associates frustrations with words like furious, stirred up to violence and intense unbridled anger (Renshaw, 2002). Research has shown that when women and men are put in the same situation women are more vulnerable than men are. When discussing frustration there are two factors. The first factor is the internal factor. Personality, increased reactivity, sensitivity, suspiciousness, and annoyances are examples of internal factors. The second is the external factors. They consist of abuse annoyances, threat, and the frustration at inability to solve problems (Renshaw, 2002). There is also evidence that examinations act as a real life stressor (Laidlaw, 2003). People cannot influence their own motivation and actions very well if they do not pay attention to their own circumstances, the conditions under which they occur, and the immediate and distal effects they produce. There are two forms of self-motivators. The affective self-reactions provide a dual source of incentive motivation. The anticipated self-satisfaction for personal accomplishment operates as a positive motivator, and discontent with deficient performances functions as a negative motivator (Bandura, 1991). It showed that if rats are fed with a continuous reinforcement of food, then they went on a partial reinforcement they became aggressive. The rats would act in an aggressive manner by attacking other objects around them like their food container (Franken, 2002). Frustration has also been studied through the means of rat experiments that have shown correlations between frustration and the way that is was displaced. Scientist have shown that facial expressions differ depend on the situation. For example, people that are frustrated or angry have a different facial expression than that of someone who is depressed or fearful. It has been shown that when a person is frustrated or angry they have the tendency to have their eyebrows drawn down and together, the forehead is wrinkled vertically and the eyes are opened wide but with pupils contracted. The teeth are usually clenched together tightly and the lips may either be clenched together or drawn back to expose the teeth. The nostrils may also be distended (Blanchard, 1984). These facial expressions may have been originally learned through observation and imitation.When having a stressor the chance of acting out against the situation that is frustrating is likely. The strain theory assumes that individuals are pressured into delinquency by there circumstances. The strain theory is a major crime theory used to emphasize the importance of anger and other negative emotions. Data shows that anger has a more substantial effect on aggression than other forms of deviant behavior (Brezina, 2001). Frustration has long been regarded as a major cause of aggression. According to the frustration hypothesis, the tendency to become aggressive increases when goal-directed behavior is blocked (Franken, 2002). The objective of this study is to examine the affects of a distraction on taking a test. The experiment is conducted to measure the amount of frustration a person will have after completing a difficult task compared with a distraction. My hypothesis is that the subjects will show frustration when asked to take a test with a high-pitched noise in the background.


Sixteen college students (15 females and 1 male) volunteered to participate. The students came from the classes “General Psychology” and “Intermediate Psychology”. The participants ranged from 19 to 47 years of age.

A computer was setup so that a high-pitched sound would come from two 100-watt speakers on the wall near the ceiling in front of the room. Subjects completed an IQ test, self-inventory, and a frustrations test. The first self inventory test was taken before the study to examine the participant’s frustration before the test. The first test was found in the “Novaco Anger Inventory- Short Form”( The second test examined the participant’s frustration after the experiment was over. The second test was found on “The clinical Anger Scale (CAS)” (http://www4.semoedu).

The participants took place in a frustration test that was held in a small seminar room. The participants first took a self-inventory questionnaire on what they felt was their normal frustration on every day activities. Then they took an IQ test. While the participants are taking the IQ test there was a continuous high-pitched noise that came from the two speakers in front of the room. After three minutes of the high-pitched noise it stopped. Then the experimenter walked in the room and handed them the last self-inventory. The students were then asked to record how they were feeling with regards to frustration on the second self-inventory test.

An independent-samples t test was calculated comparing the means of the pretest with participants who did and did not have external stimulus in the form of a high-pitched noise while taking a test. No significant difference was found (t(14)= -1.280, p>..025). The mean of the people without external high-pitched stimulus (m=9.125, sd=5.06) was not significant from the mean of the people with the high-pitched stimulus (m=5.5, sd=6.21).An independent-samples t test was calculated comparing the means of the posttest with participants who did and did not have external stimulus in the form of a high-pitched noise while taking a test. No significant difference was found (t(14)= 1.019, p>025). The mean of the people without external high-pitched stimulus (m=46, sd=23.02) was not significantly different from the mean of the people with the high-pitched stimulus (m=58.375, sd=25.

In this study there was no significant difference in the result found in the independent samples t test comparing a posttest and a pretest and comparing the means of a test taken with a high-pitched and a test taken without a high-pitched noise. However there was a correlation in the mean on the posttest and the pretest. The pretest average was actually lower than the average of the posttest with regards to the control group without the high-pitched noise. The averages of the experimental group showed that the average of the posttest was higher than the pretest. The research done on this experiment does not correlate with the study that was done on the external stimulus of a high-pitched noise. There have been studies that show a significant difference in the ability to take a test and the amount of test anxiety a person is experiencing at the time. The study has some limitations. The amount of participants that showed up played as a big role in the limitations in the study. Other limitations like the location of the study might have played a role in the outcome of the study. I believe that the small seminar room that the study took place in might have played a difference in the outcome also. The room was in the college where there are a lot of students talking and walking around, thus distraction the participants from the task at hand. The last limitation that I think played a part was the two-sided mirror that was in the room. I noticed the participants were curious if the experimenter was on the other side watching them take the test. I think that is important because the student might have been reacting to the mirror instead of focusing on the test and the high-pitched noise. In the experiment the high-pitched noise went for 3 minutes. The time that the external stimulus was playing should have been longer. I think that if the external stimulus was longer it would have has a difference in the outcome of the study. I believe that if an experimenter did the same study, but changed the variables and some of the things like the room and the time or the type of external stimulus they would come out with lower significance and be able to find a significant difference. I say this because I believe the limitations listed played a big role in the outcome of the study. I believe that if the experimenter changed these aspects it would make the study more reliable. Because of this experiment, I believe that it has made me ask many questions about the study. What if the participants changed and were in another environment? Would the result change is there was some other distraction? If the participants were using the same distraction, but in another environment how would the study turn out? Would the participants be more frustrated if there was no test for them to take, instead observe the participants in a reactions study? The experiment raised questions that an experimenter might have considered for further research.

Bandura, A. (1991). Social Cognitive Theory of Self-Regulation. [Electronic version]. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50, 248-287.Blanchard, R. & Blanchard, D. (1984). Advances in the Study of Agression. Orlando: Academic Press, Inc.Brezina, T. (2001). Student Anger and Aggressive Behavior in School: An Initial test of Agnew’s Macro-Level Strain Theory. [Electronic version]. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 38, 362-386.Franken, R. (2002). Human Motivation. (5th Ed.). Belmont: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.Laidlaw, T. (2003). Mood Changes After Self-Hypnosis and Johrei Prior to Exams. [Electronic version]. Contemporary Hypothesis, 20, 25-40. Renshaw, D. (2002). Rage 2002. [Electronic version]. The Family Journal: Counseling and Therapy for Couples and Families, 10, 240-243.

Last Four Numbers of SSN_______ Sex________ Age________1. ..... A. I do not feel angry. B. I feel angry. C. I am angry most of the time.D. I am so angry and hostile all the time that I can`t stand it. 2. ..... A. I am not particularly angry about my future. B. When I think about my future, I feel angry. C. I feel angry about what I have to look forward to. D. I feel intensely angry about my future, since it cannot be improved. 3. ..... A. It makes me angry that I feel like such a failure. B. It makes me angry that I have failed more than the average person. C. As I look back on my life, I feel angry about my failures. D. It makes me angry to feel like a complete failure as a person. 4. ..... A. I am not all that angry about things. B. I am becoming more hostile about things than I used to be. C. I am pretty angry about things these days. D. I am angry and hostile about everything. 5. ..... A. I don`t feel particularly hostile at others. B. I feel hostile a good deal of the time. C. I feel quite hostile most of the time. D. I feel hostile all of the time. 6. ..... A. I don`t feel that others are trying to annoy me. B. At times I think people are trying to annoy me. C. More people than usual are beginning to make me feel angry. D. I feel that others are constantly and intentionally making me angry. 7. ..... A. I don`t feel angry when I think about myself. B. I feel more angry about myself these days than I used to. C. I feel angry about myself a good deal of the time. D. When I think about myself, I feel intense anger. 8. ..... A. I don`t have angry feelings about others having screwed up my life. B. It`s beginning to make me angry that others are screwing up my life. C. I feel angry that others prevent me from having a good life. D. I am constantly angry because others have made my life totally miserable. 9. ..... A. I don`t feel angry enough to hurt someone. B. Sometimes I am so angry that I feel like hurting others, but I would not really do it. C. My anger is so intense that I sometimes feel like hurting others. D. I`m so angry that I would like to hurt someone. 10. ..... A. I don`t shout at people any more than usual. B. I shout at others more now than I used to. C. I shout at people all the time now. D. I shout at others so often that sometimes I just can`t stop. 11. ..... A. Things are not more irritating to me now than usual. B. I feel slightly more irritated now than usual. C. I feel irritated a good deal of the time. D. I`m irritated all the time now. 12. ..... A. My anger does not interfere with my interest in other people. B. My anger sometimes interferes with my interest in others. C. I am becoming so angry that I don`t want to be around others. D. I`m so angry that I can`t stand being around people. 13. ..... A. I don`t have any persistent angry feelings that influence my ability to make decisions. B. My feelings of anger occasionally undermine my ability to make decisions. C. I am angry to the extent that it interferes with my making good decisions. D. I`m so angry that I can`t make good decisions anymore. 14. ..... A. I`m not so angry and hostile that others dislike me. B. People sometimes dislike being around me since I become angry. C. More often than not, people stay away from me because I`m so hostile and angry. D. People don`t like me anymore because I`m constantly angry all the time. 15. ..... A. My feelings of anger do not interfere with my work. B. From time to time my feelings of anger interfere with my work. C. I feel so angry that it interferes with my capacity to work. D. My feelings of anger prevent me from doing any work at all. 16. ..... A. My anger does not interfere with my sleep. B. Sometimes I don`t sleep very well because I`m feeling angry. C. My anger is so great that I stay awake 1—2 hours later than usual. D. I am so intensely angry that I can`t get much sleep during the night. 17. ..... A. My anger does not make me feel anymore tired than usual. B. My feelings of anger are beginning to tire me out. C. My anger is intense enough that it makes me feel very tired. D. My feelings of anger leave me too tired to do anything. 18. .....A. My appetite does not suffer because of my feelings of anger. B. My feelings of anger are beginning to affect my appetite. C. My feelings of anger leave me without much of an appetite. D. My anger is so intense that it has taken away my appetite. 19. ..... A. My feelings of anger don`t interfere with my health. B. My feelings of anger are beginning to interfere with my health. C. My anger prevents me from devoting much time and attention to my health. D. I`m so angry at everything these days that I pay no attention to my health and well-being. 20. ..... A. My ability to think clearly is unaffected by my feelings of anger. B. Sometimes my feelings of anger prevent me from thinking in a clear-headed way. C. My anger makes it hard for me to think of anything else. D. I`m so intensely angry and hostile that it completely interferes with my thinking. 21. .....A. I don`t feel so angry that it interferes with my interest in sex. B. My feelings of anger leave me less interested in sex than I used to be. C. My current feelings of anger undermine my interest in sex. D. I`m so angry about my life that I`ve completely lost interest in sex.

Last Four Numbers of SSN_______ Sex______ Age_____Pick the degree to which you would feel angry or annoyed in the following situations (please tick only one anger rating for each situation):Situation. Very Little Little Moderate Amount Much Very MuchYou unpack an appliance you have just bought, plug it in, and discover that it doesn’t work . . . . .Being overcharged by a repair person who has you over a barrel . . . . .Being singled out for a correction, while the actions of others go unnoticed . . . . .Getting your car stuck in the mud or sand . . . . .You are talking to someone and they don’t answer you . . . . .Someone pretends to be something they are not . . . . .While you are struggling to carry four cups of coffee to your table at a cafeteria, someone bumps into you, spilling the coffee . . . . .You have hung up your clothes, but someone knocks them to the floor and fails to pick them up . . . . .You are hounded by a sales person from the moment you walk into the store . . . . .You have made arrangements to go somewhere with a person who backs off at the last minute and leaves you dangling . . . . .Being joked about or teased . . . . .Your car is stalled at a traffic light, and the person behind you keeps blowing his horn . . . . .You accidentally make the wrong kind of turn in a car park. As you get out of your car someone yells at you, "where did you learn to drive?" . . . . .Someone makes a mistake and blames it on you . . . . .You are trying to concentrate, but a person near you is tapping their foot . . . . .You lend someone an important book or tool, and they fail to return it . . . . .You have had a busy day, and the person you live with starts to complain about how you forgot to do something you agreed to . . . . .You are trying to discuss something important with your mate or partner who isn’t giving you a chance to express your feelings . . . . .You are in a discussion with someone who persists in arguing about a topic they know very little about . . . . .Someone sticks his or her nose into an argument between you and someone else . . . . .You need to get somewhere quickly, but the car in front of you is going 40 km/h in a 60 km/h zone, and you can’t pass . . . . .Stepping on a lump of chewing gum . . . . .Being mocked by a small group of people as you pass them . . . . .In a hurry to get somewhere, you tear a good pair of trousers / skirt on a sharp object . . . . .You use your last coin to make a phone call, but you are disconnected before you finish dialling and the coin is lost . . . . .Thank You!Scoring:Answer Given ScoreVery Little 0Little 1Moderate Amount 2Much 3Very Much 4

Submitted 12/1/2003 9:54:55 AM
Last Edited 12/1/2003 10:22:44 AM
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