Mark R. Hill

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Kenneth A. Blick

Second Advisor

Dr. Frederick J. Kozub

Third Advisor

Dr. Richard P. Tobin


Although well-supported and historically-important, the Yerkes-Dodson research cannot incorporate current findings on the relationship of arousal and selective attention. Easterbrook's hypothesis suggests that arousal produces a narrowing of attention which selects among available stimuli. Whether information is processed depends on the level of arousal and the nature of the task. As arousal increases, Easterbrook predicts more attention directed to central tasks, while superfluous stimuli are progressively removed. The present investigation studied the predictions of Easterbrook' s hypothesis on.incidental memory in a simulated eyewitness case. College students were aroused to either resting, 50, 65, or 85 percent maximum heartrate by their activity on an ergometer. After a nine-minute exercise period, 24 slides depicting a wallet-snatching incident were shown, followed by a projected multiple-choice questionnaire sensitive to central or peripheral detail. Following a series of nonsignificant tests for homogeneity of variance, a Two-Factor, Repeated-Measures ANOVA was performed on the data. No significant interaction between the level of arousal and errors was noted. The main effect of groups was also nonsignificant. The effect of question type was significant, but may be due more to uncontrolled differences between questions than action of the independent variable. In summary, these results suggest that Easterbrook's hypothesis may not be as robust a phenomenon as originally supposed. Future research should focus on more precise control of secondary variables through the use of individualized testing procedures.

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