Date of Award

August 2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Ray Fleming

Committee Members

Diane Reddy, Hanjoo Lee, Marcellus Merritt, Shawn Cahill


Generalized arousal can amplify emotional responses to a range of target stimuli, but it is not yet known whether perceiver characteristics moderate the effects of arousal as target characteristics do. This study investigated the effects of residual arousal from exercise on psychological and physiological reactivity to an active coping task, when individual appraisals of the task differed. Participants who endorsed either a positive or negative attitude toward job interviews underwent either a highly or minimally arousing exercise task, followed by a mock job interview, to which self-reported and cardiovascular responses were assessed. Using the Biopsychosocial Model of Challenge and Threat (BPSM–CT) as a framework, results showed that during the interview, participants with positive and negative prior attitudes exhibited cardiovascular response patterns consistent with physiological challenge and threat, respectively, while residual arousal from exercise led to more positive self-reports of the interview in both groups. The findings demonstrate that residual arousal can improve subjective evaluations of a motivated performance task, while pre-existing attitudes can influence task-related physiological reactivity.