The role of learning in the development and maintenance of high- perception psychophysiological disorders

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


The present study examined the relationship between psychophysiological disorders with easily perceived symptoms and learning experiences. One-hundred-fifty-one college undergraduates were given self-report questionnaires assessing presence or absence of childhood and current high-perception disorders, childhood and current learning experiences, family prevalence of disorders, illness behavior, childhood and current stress, childhood family factors, depression, and anxiety.

Multivariate F tests showed that subjects who reported a current high-perception disorder reported more reinforcement for mild illnesses in childhood than did subjects who reported no current disorder (F(2,65) = 4.79, p = .011). with a significant univariate F test with positive reinforcement as the dependent variable (F(l,66) = 4.27; p = .042). Support was not provided for the hypothesis that people who reported having a childhood high-perception disorder were reinforced for mild illness more in childhood than those reporting no childhood disorder. Family prevalence analysis showed that people who reported a current disorder were more likely to have a parent with a high-perception disorder than were people who reported no current disorder (chi-square = 5.80, df = l, p= .016). Analysis of environmental and person variables showed that people who reported a current disorder scored higher on depression (t = 2.5, p = .013) and state and trait anxiety than people who reported no disorder (t = 2.57, p = .013 and t = 3.0, p = .004, respectively). Implications of these findings and future directions are discussed.