Predictability of shock and human choice behaviour: A brief report of a simulated experiment


Department of Psychology, North East London Polytechnic, The Green, Stratford, London E15, UK.


Subjects were asked to imagine anticipating shocks of varying probability and intensity, and to choose between two hypothetical activities: monitoring for an auditory warning stimulus, or listening to distracting music. In addition subjects were asked to rate how much anxiety they felt while imagining the scenes. Results of the simulation closely followed those reported in a real version of the experiment. Subjects offered control over the shock chose to monitor more than those with no control. More monitoring was associated with more probable or more severe shock threat. Post hoc results suggested that individual differences, in particular neuroticism and sex, may play a greater role in responding than has previously been reported. It is argued that simulated experiments may prove fruitful in future research involving the use of aversive procedures.