Scalable Acute Stress Paradigm

Acute stress reactivity is currently measured in laboratory settings, and is very labor intensive and involves tremendous coordination including several research assistants, a physical location, and a variety of equipment including computers, audio visual and physiological equipment. For example, the commonly used Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) requires several study confederates who act as 'judges' during the research participants' performance on tasks. The resources needed to coordinate and measure reactions to this task limit this task's scalability. A scalable stress reactivity task has yet to be created, and thus stress reactivity measures are difficult to include in studies with large samples sizes. One way to scale a stress reactivity task is to create an online version so that participants can access it from home. We are seeking to develop an online TSST that involves a pre-recorded video so that participants can engage with the task at any time, from any computer connected to the internet. Our first approach to develop this has been focused on a computerized TSST in which the judges' reactions are pre-recorded, though participants believe the judges are live. We are currently piloting this in the lab so that physiological reactions can be measured and participants can be interviewed about the believability of the task during de-briefing. We ran the first pilot study of n=105 participants and are using those initial findings to launch our second study in which we are refining the task.