Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology



First Advisor

Dominic Valentino


Heart rate orientation responses were taken while subjects were administered two tests of leveling and sharpening. The first leveling and sharpening test was neutral in content while the second was designed to be affectively arousing. Subjects were also administered the aggression scale from the Edwards Personal Preference Scale (EPPS) and classified into low and high aggression groups. It was predicted that the use of attention is a major cognitive distinction between levelers and sharpeners. Heart rate orientation responses were used as a measure of attention. It was predicted that sharpeners would exhibit greater orienting behavior than levelers and these attentional differences would be further elucidated by changes in the content of the two leveling and sharpening tasks and by subjects' predisposition towards the trait of aggression. Repeated measures ANOVA showed a significant main effect for task with a decrease in orienting behavior as subjects went from the neutral leveling-sharpening task to the affectively arousing leveling-sharpening task and a significant 3-way interaction with high EPPS-aggression sharpeners and low EPPS-aggression levelers exhibiting significantly different patterns of orientation responses between the leveling-sharpening tasks.



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