An experiment with 64 participants manipulated task difficulty and assessed cardiac reactivity in active coping over four levels of demand. Participants performed a memory task while preejection period, heart rate, and blood pressure were assessed. In accordance with the theoretical predictions of R. A. Wright's (1996) integration of motivational intensity theory (J. W. Brehm & E. A. Self, 1989) with Obrist's active coping approach (P. A. Obrist, 1981), preejection period and systolic blood pressure reactivity increased with task difficulty across the first three difficulty levels. On the fourth difficulty levelFwhere success was impossibleFreactivity of both preejection period and systolic blood pres-sure were low. These findings provide the first clear evidence for the notion of Wright's integrative model that energy mobilization in active coping is mediated by beta-adrenergic impact on the heart.
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