Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

James P. McCullough


A group of depressed (N=10) and a group of normal (N=10) were presented a series of stressor stimuli to assess several parameters of their physiological responses to these stimuli. The results indicated that the groups did not differ in their relative tendency to show maximal response specificity (consistently responding to stress with a maximum response in the same channel) or pattern stereotypy (the tendency to respond consistently in all physiological channels relative to each other). A multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA), of the levels of the physiological channels under conditions of rest, anticipation, and stress revealed a significant group effect. Univariate analyses of variance (ANOVA) resulted in significant group effects for skin conductance and heart rate variability. Stepwise regression and discriminant analysis procedures revealed skin conductance as the best single variable predictor of group membership. The inclusion of heart rate variability added little discriminating power.

The results contradict suggestions made by various authors that normal and pathological groups differ along the consistency of their physiological responses. The depressed group was not more disorganized than the normal group in their physiological responses to repeated stress. Group differences were found, however, in tower levels of skin conductance and heart rate variability. The results of this study indicate that the psycho- physiological assessment of depression is best approached from a longitudinal perspective examining changes in tower levels of specific physiological channels.


Scanned, with permission from the author, from the original print version, which resides in University Archives.


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