This study attempts to determine whether the presentation of an experimentally manipulated somatic experience during a physically strenuous task can influence physical performance and symptom reporting. The study also compares the relative influence of experimentally manipulated somatic information (state somatization) with stable individual differences in the tendency to amplify physical symptoms (trait somatization) on performance and symptom reporting. 194 participants completed standardized measures of somatization tendencies, state anxiety, neuroticism and conscientiousness. Participants where then given a mock physical exam, with individuals randomly assigned to receive either favorable or unfavorable somatic information. All participants then had their body mass index assessed and completed a rigorous exercise task, with quantification of performance. Physiological measures of blood pressure and pulse were also assessed before and after the exercise task. The experimentally manipulated presentation of somatic information predicted both performance and physical symptoms, even after controlling for BMI, neuroticism, conscientiousness, and state anxiety. Moreover, expected performance uniquely and significantly predicted performance above and beyond condition, anxiety, BMI, neuroticism, and conscientiousness. Somatosensory amplification tendencies also predicted symptom endorsement, but not performance. Findings suggest that both state and trait expectations with respect to somatic experiences influence symptom reporting and to a lesser extent performance, even after controlling for variables known to strongly influence each of these outcomes. Results are consistent with the cognitive-perceptual and the cognitive-appraisal models of somatic interpretation.
Casto, Kathleen V. and Lecci, Len B.
"Experimentally Manipulated Somatic Information and Somatization Tendencies and their Impact on Physical Symptom Reporting and Performance in a Physically Strenuous Task,"
International Journal of Exercise Science:
1, Article 7.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.wku.edu/ijes/vol5/iss1/7