Effects of Self-Verbalizations upon Emotional Arousal and Performance: A Test of Rational-Emotive Theory

Gregory A. Bonadies, Barry A. Bass

December 1, 1984


Self-verbalizing rational statements results in more improvement in performing tasks than doing so with irrational or neutral statements. Researchers drew from rational-emotive theory’s view that self-verbalizations, especially irrational ones, affect performance. They then tested the possibility that physiological arousal plays a mediating role in this relationship. The 36 study participants were divided into two experimental groups and one control group who received rational, irrational, or neutral statements, respectively. For each individual trial, researchers wired participants with forearm and fingers electrodes to measure physiological response and had them perform a mirror-tracing task within a time limit. After a baseline run, participants individually read their respective statements aloud and were asked to paraphrase them before performing the task while keeping their statements in mind. The set of reading the statements and performing the task was then repeated two more times.

Although the hypothesized results for physiological response were not found, researchers observed differences in performance between the groups. All the self-verbalizing groups showed improvement, but while the error reduction with irrational or neutral statements showed a leveling off, with rational statements it continued.