Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 91–103 | Cite as

Perceived psychophysiological control: The effects of power versus powerlessness

  • Carol R. Glass
  • Leon H. Levy


The current popularity of biofeedback training in self-control is often linked to its psychological benefits. However, the perception of control, whether veridical or not, may be playing a key role in the therapeutic benefits attributed to biofeedback. A total of 120 randomly assigned undergraduate women received two trials of false heart-rate feedback on a task presented either as biofeedback self-control or as externally controlled, due to physiological response to color of room illumination. Perceived efficacy or inefficacy and direction of suggested change were also manipulated. As predicted, perceived effective self-control resulted in more positive mood, internal attributions, and higher performance expectations; perceived ineffective self-control led to opposite results. Significant interactions suggested an important similarity between self-control efficacy and external-control inefficacy, and between self-control inefficacy and external-control efficacy. Results were related to the concept of personal power and powerlessness and to Bandura's theory of self-efficacy.


Cognitive Psychology Physiological Response Therapeutic Benefit Opposite Result Positive Mood 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carol R. Glass
    • 1
  • Leon H. Levy
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyCatholic University of AmericaWashington, D.C.USA
  2. 2.University of MarylandBaltimore CountyUSA

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