Caffeine ingestion, misattribution therapy, and speech anxiety

John L. Cotton, Robert Steven Baron, Thomas D. Borkovec

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8 Scopus citations


While theoretical analogs of misattribution therapy appeared promising (Nisbett & Schachter, 1966; Ross, Rodin, & Zimbardo, 1969), attempts with clinically relevant behaviors have not been so successful (Kellogg & Baron, 1975; Singerman, Borkovec, & Baron, 1976). Since the plausibility of the misattribution manipulation appears to be the central problem, the present study attempted to increase plausibility by manipulating familiarity with the setting and actual psychological arousal in a clinically relevant situation. Subjects only slightly fearful of giving speeches presented a speech in front of two observers. Familiarity was varied by having half of the subjects give a pretest speech, while arousal was manipulated by having half of the subjects ingest caffeine while the others ingested a placebo just prior to the test speech. The subjects' attributions were varied by giving them either arousal or irrelevant symptom instructions regarding the effects of the ingested drug. Direct suggestion rather than misattribution effects occurred: Those subjects receiving arousal symptoms reported more nervousness than subjects who had received irrelevant symptoms. The authors conclude that while the misattribution effect may have experimental validity, it is not effective with clinically relevant behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)196-206
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Research in Personality
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1980

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • General Psychology


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