Effects of accurate expectations and behavioral instructions on reactions during a noxious medical examination

Jean E. Johnson, Howard Leventhal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

237 Scopus citations


Conducted a field experiment in a threatening situation to test the relationship between 2 types of reactions: emotional and danger-control-oriented. Ss were 48 hospitalized medical patients who received an endoscopic examination. 2 types of preparatory messages were constructed, 1 to reduce emotional reactions and the other to increase performance of danger-control behaviors. 4 groups were formed by presenting the messages singly and in combination and by presenting no experimental message to a comparison group. The data indicate a greater degree of interdependence between the fear- and danger-controlling processes than expected. The behavioral instruction message significantly affected the indicators of control of danger only when combined with the sensory description message. Sensory description alone and in combination with behavioral instruction reduced selected indicators of emotional reaction. 2 situational factors-the highly threatening nature of the endoscopic examination and competition between emotional and controlling behaviors for the same response system at the same time-were identified as possible causes of the observed interdependency between the 2 types of reactions. (19 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)710-718
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1974

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


  • accurate expectations &
  • behavioral instructions in threatening situation, emotional &
  • danger-control-oriented response, hospitalized medical patients undergoing endoscopic examination


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