Evidence of a Role for Response Plans and Self-Monitoring in Biofeedback


  • This research comprised an honours bachelor's thesis by the first author. It was supported by a grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (A0132) to the second author. We thank D. Imiolo and R. Marlin for technical assistance.

Address requests for reprints to: L.E. Roberts, Department of Psychology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada L8S 4K1.


Subjects in a control group were given feedback training for two unidentified visceral responses (increases and decreases in heart rate) and were then asked to provide a verbal report describing what they had done to control the feedback displays. Judges were given these reports and asked to determine training condition (increase heart rate on A trials and decrease heart rate on B trials, or the reverse) from them. Subjects in an experimental group received the same procedure but were also asked for a verbal report prior to receiving their first feedback display and thenceforth after each of the first 10 trials of feedback training. The results showed that: a) success at biofeedback learning is accompanied by verbal awareness of activities contributing to response production, and b) learning can be predicted (r= .80) by probing the subject's problem space before he has seen his first feedback trial. Extensive verbal probing of experimental subjects did not eventuate in superior learning in this group. The nature and role of problem-solving activity in biofeedback are discussed.