Self-control and predictability: Their effects on reactions to aversive stimulation

Ervin Staub, Bernard Tursky, Gary E. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

163 Scopus citations


Investigated the effect of control predictability on reactions to aversive stimulation. 40 paid Ss received a sequence of electric shocks, gradually increasing in intensity under conditions of self- and no-control. Subjective judgment points, including decision about limit of endurance, and heart rate were used to assess reactions. It was found that a small variation in control and predictability (who pushed the shock button) did not itself affect reactions. However, compared to self-control Ss, no-control Ss judged less intense shock as uncomfortable and tolerated somewhat less shocks. These differences disappeared on a 2nd administration of shocks when both groups were given no-control conditions. The experimental treatments also affected heart rate reactions to the shocks. Findings suggest that control predictability can reduce the aversiveness of noxious stimulation. (20 ref.) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-162
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1971


  • reactions to aversive stimulation, self-control vs. no-control predictability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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