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Impact of trait anxiety and social conformity on responses to experimental chemical challenge

Publication Date
  • Chemical Challenge
  • Solvents
  • Annoyance
  • Personality
  • Trait Anxiety
  • Medicine And Health Sciences


The study examined the impact of trait anxiety and social conformity on ratings and test performance during controlled solvent challenge. Healthy women (n = 20) and men (n = 18) were exposed to increasing levels of toluene and n-butyl acetate in a challenge chamber, during which they repeatedly rated smell intensity and annoyance, and completed neurobehavioral tests. Trait anxiety was measured by the Psychasthenia scale of the Karolinska, Scales of Personality (KSP), and social conformity by the KSP Social Desirability scale. Among women, high Psychasthenia was related to higher increase in ratings of mucous membrane irritation, fatigue, and annoyance from other aspects of the environment than smell during challenges, and was related to a higher increase in reaction time variability. Among men, Psychasthenia was unrelated to annoyance ratings, and was inversely related to the increase in smell intensity ratings. Social desirability was unrelated to any rating or performance dimension for either gender.

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