An exploratory study of the effects of emotionally toned incidental stimuli1


  • 1

    Much of die work for this paper was performed while both authors were in the Department of Psychiatry of the State University of New York, Downstate Medical Center The research was facilitated by NIH Grant Number 12–1369P to the Psychology Laboratory of the Downstate Medical Center and NIMH Grant Number 5–P01–MH17545 to the Research Center for Mental Health, New York University The authors wish to thank H A Witkin for his helpful advice and support of various stages of the study and Philip M Bromberg, Linda Hirsch Schoeman, and Madronna Holden for their assistance with the ratings and other aspects of the study


The present study examined the effects of emotionally toned (angry or pleasant) incidental stimuli upon fantasy production Subjects told more aggressive TAT stories when highly aggressive passages from a play were audible from the next room (at a volume and fidelity which made it difficult to follow the verbal message) than they did when no such stimulus was playing No increase in aggression was noted in the presence of a pleasantly toned stimulus Individual differences in responsiveness to the incidental stimulus were related to other measures of influence by incidental stimuli, and little individual consistency was evident It was suggested that the concept of a general trait of responsiveness to incidental stimulation may be too global, and that consistencies may be limited to particular response modes, types of stimuli, and orientations to the situation.