Senior Theses: 2003-2004

Honors Thesis Trait Origins of Fear and Anger in the Experience of PainJeffrey D. Labban
Faculty Advisor: John C. Lefebvre, Ph.D.

The role of affect has always been of central importance to the experience of pain.  What has not been as thoroughly examined is the interaction of multiple affects with the experience of pain.  The current study incorporates two studies that aim at determining the role of fear, anxiety, and anger in the experience of pain.  In study 1, 100 healthy undergraduates were administered questionnaires gauging retrospective pain experiences and their related cognitions.  Study 2 examined the same relationships within an experimentally induced pain paradigm.  Fifty-nine healthy undergraduate participants repeated the methods of Study 1, but were also required to complete an ice bath task directly following completion of the questionnaires.  Pain ratings during the ice bath were obtained using an 11-point numeric pain scale.  The results of the first study indicated that anger and anxiety, but not fear, were significantly related to pain.  Study 2 found significant positive relationships between fear and anxiety and pain, but a significant negative correlation between anger-out and pain.  These results are discussed along with possible future directions.

Senior Theses:
Gustatory Detection and Discrimination between Free Fatty Acids in Rats: Evidence of a taste component for dietary fat.

Gabe Gracia, Chelsea Grimsley, Erin Hantske
Faculty Advisor: Dave Pittman, Ph.D.

The present experiment examined the ability to form a conditioned taste aversion (CTA) to 88uM linoleic and oleic free fatty acids in either salt or ethanol form in 32 male Sprague-Dawley rats. Four solutions were used: Oleic Acid in salt and ethanol forms, and Linoleic Acid in salt and ethanol forms. The rats were water deprived beginning 4 days prior to testing. The rats were separated into two groups, an experimental and a control group. The experimental group was conditioned to all four solutions using injections of LiCl, which caused gastric distress, and the control group was unconditioned and received injections of NaCl. Two-bottle preference tests were used to determine the rats’ ability to detect the four solutions and discriminate between each of them. These results showed that rats could detect linoleic and oleic acid based on gustatory cues. Furthermore, rats cannot discriminate between linoleic and oleic acid using gustatory cues. Therefore, these findings suggest that the rats’ gustatory system has a transduction mechanism for free fatty acids, which does not allow for differentiation between linoleic and oleic acid.

Preference and Resistance to Change within Simultaneous and Successive Arrays
Rachel Sheridan
Faculty Advisor: Alliston K. Reid, Ph.D.

This experiment was derived from two previous experiments, which sought to apply Behavioral Momentum Theory to simultaneous and successive schedules, and found contradictory results. This experiment combined both simultaneous and successive schedules, along with preference components to further examine and elaborate on the previous findings from other experiments. The preference and resistance to change were measured for each human participant on each schedule. According to behavioral momentum theory, the terminal link should have more value, thus more resistance to change. In contrast with behavioral momentum theory, but along with the two previous experiments, the initial link should hold more value. Although results were expected to follow either behavioral momentum theory of the previous two experiments, different results were obtained. There seemed to be no systematic preference for initial or terminal links, as well as no significant difference for the resistance to change test.

Anger, Anxiety, Fear, and Coping: Their role in the experience of painM. Caroline Brewer, Ashley E. Doyle, and LeAnne E. Rawls
Faculty Advisor: John C. Lefebvre, Ph.D.

The present study examined the relationship between anxiety, anger, fear, negative affectivity, coping styles, and pain.  The randomly selected undergraduate participants (n = 100) were administered the McGill Pain Questionnaire-Short Form and various questionnaires that examined affective dimensions and coping styles.  The results of bivariate correlations revealed a significant positive correlation between anger, pain anxiety, and pain.  The results of partial correlations revealed that catastrophizing and rumination completely mediated the relationship between pain anxiety and pain.  These coping styles also partially mediated the relationship between anger and pain.  Finally, the results showed that the relationship between negativity affectivity and pain was only partially mediated by catastrophizing and rumination.  No relationship was discovered between fear of pain and the experience of pain.  The results are discussed in terms of the current literature and future research directions.

Prenatal Behaviors and Obstetric Outcomes
Abigail Anderson, Nora Awkerman, Tanaya Latigue, & Hayley O'Connor
Faculty advisor: C. B. McAninch, Ph.D.

The effects of preterm birth are not only detrimental at delivery, but also may spawn problems during the future development of the child.  Therefore, all factors (e.g., smoking, alcohol, or drug use) contributing to the risk of preterm birth should be analyzed; however, the risk that certain sexual behaviors may be present is unclear at this time.  Due to limited, contradictory research, it was hypothesized that sexual intercourse may be associated with preterm birth.  Survey data were gathered from subjects at a maternal-fetal medical clinic, which recorded the frequency of behaviors during the month prior to pregancy as well as the most recent month during pregnancy.  Delivery data (e.g., gestation length, type of delivery, and complications) were obtained from hospital records.  Due to the small sample size and a limited number of births by the end of this study, no firm conclusions could be drawn, but the study is ongoing.