, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 207-228

Effects of Progressive Relaxation and Classical Music on Measurements of Attention, Relaxation, and Stress Responses

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Abstract

The present experiment examined relaxation using different experimental conditions to test whether the effects of individual elements of relaxation could be measured, whether specific effects were revealed, or whether relaxation resulted from a generalized “relaxation response.” Sixty-seven normal, male volunteers were exposed to a stress manipulation and then to one of two relaxation (Progressive Relaxation, Music) or control (Attention Control, Silence) conditions. Measurements of attention, relaxation, and stress responses were obtained during each phase of the experiment. All four groups exhibited similar performance on behavioral measures of attention that suggested a reduction in physiological arousal following their relaxation or control condition, as well as a decreased heart rate. Progressive Relaxation, however, resulted in the greatest effects on behavioral and self-report measures of relaxation, suggesting that cognitive cues provided by stress management techniques contribute to relaxation.