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For this project, 92 students entered an abandoned theater room in an old basement of the university where sand was scattered throughout. The purpose of the study was to experimentally demonstrate that psychological suggestions could produce illness reports and to explore who is most likely to say that they would sue for personal damages. The students filled out the Trait-State Anger Scale and two subscales, Anger Temperament and Anger Reaction as well as the Costello-Corey Anxiety Scale, the Hardiness Inventory, the Pennebaker Inventory of Limbic Languidness, and, embedded in the Hardiness Inventory, measures of current illness as a result of exposure to the basement room. Half the participants were met by a confederate student who claimed to be cleaning up the remains of a production of "Lawrence of Arabia," and the other half were met by a confederate construction worker who claimed that "The stuff will tear up your skin and your lungs." Those in the experimental groups who perceived danger and scored low in the hardiness dimension of challenge were more likely to report symptoms of illness. Willingness to file a law suit was predicted by a model including perceived danger and the personality characteristic of anger reactivity.


This is an electronic version of an article published in The Journal of Psychology, 136(2), 125-40. The version of record is available from the publisher at Copyright © 2002 HELDREF PUBLICATIONS. All rights reserved.

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