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Kukso P.A., Kukso O.G. The Relationship Between Individual Personality Traits and Physiological Measures Demonstrated by Students with Different SMMI Results Who Experience Examination Stress

Published in journal "Psychology and Psychotechnics", 2016-8 in rubric "The range of emotional experience", pages 691-700.

Resume: The subject of the present research article is the examination stress as one of the first reasons that cause psychic tension for university students. Examination stress is one of the topics that attract attention of many foreign and Russian researchers. Emotions experienced by students during their exams can be undoubtedly considered as emotional stress. Situations when students take exams often cause so-called examination neurosis and take one of the first places among other reasons causing psychic tension of students. On the one hand, it is well known that there are certain individual personality traits that provoke negative emotions and feelings during exams. On the other hand, particular physiological measures change during exams, too. It is known that when a student experiences examination stress, his or her personality traits influence the cardiovascular response and dynamic changes of the constant potential (omega-potential). The purpose of the present research is to analyze individual personality traits and vegetative responses demonstrated by students in a stress situation. Personality traits were defined by using the short version of Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory offered by L. Sobchik, in particular, using the following scales from the 1st scale (self-control) to the 0 scale (social introvesion). The authors have also used the  State-Trait Anxiety Inventory by Charles Spielberger adopted by Yu. Khanin). Physiological stress markers were determined by using the Robinson's Index as a cardiovascular indicator and omega-potential as an indicator of brain activity. During one week before exam and one week after exam the researchers recorded students' heart rate and blood pressure in order to calcuate the Robinson's Index that describes the response of the cardiovascular system in the course of developing examination stress. Brain activity potential (omega potential) was also measured during one week before and one week after the exam. By using Excel and STATISTICA 10.0 programs, the authors have conducted mathematical-and-statistical processing of data by using the non-parametric criterion of math statistics, i.e. the sign test to compare average data within groups, and Spearman correlation coefficient (r). The authors have also used the cluster analysis by using the k-average method. 48 people aged 19-23 participated in the research. The following conclusions can be made based on the results. The researchers have described two groups of students with different responses to examination stress depending on SMMI scores. The comparative analysis of their profiles in these two groups has shown that the first group of respondents demonstrate scores within the norm. The second group of respondents demonstrate psychopathic personality traits (excessive control, impulsivity and introvesion) and personality accentuations (rigidy and anxiety as psychological stress markers). Respondents of the second group also demonstrate intense instability to stress and high probability of neurotic disorders. In these two groups examination stress have a different effect on cardiovascular and brain activity indicators. The first-group students showed speeding up of excessively slow physiological process of brain activity and cardioregulation processes as physiological stress markers in a situation of examination stress. The researchers also discovered the correlation between psychological and physiological indicators (psychophysiological stress-markers) typical for each group. The results of the present research can be interesting for understanding the mechanisms of psychophysiological regulation and applied for the purpose of improving the teaching process as well as to understand the physiological nature of examination stress and develop relevant programs of coping with examination stress.   

Keywords: individual personality traits, psychoemotional response, students, psychophysiological stress markers, physiological stress markers, psychological stress markers, omega-potential, Robinson’s index, SMMI, examination stress

DOI: 10.7256/2070-8955.2016.8.21125

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