Monitoring and blunting: validation of a questionnaire to assess styles of information seeking under threat

J Pers Soc Psychol. 1987 Feb;52(2):345-53. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.52.2.345.


Subjects were divided into information seekers (high monitors)/information avoiders (low monitors) and distractors (high blunters)/nondistractors (low blunters) on the basis of their scores on a self-report scale to measure coping styles, the Miller Behavioral Style Scale (MBSS). In Experiment 1, subjects were faced with a physically aversive event (the prospect of electric shock). High monitors and low blunters chose to seek out information about its nature and onset whereas low monitors and high blunters chose to distract themselves. This effect was strongest with the blunting dimension. High monitoring and low blunting were also accompanied by sustained high anxiety and arousal. In contrast, low monitors and high blunters were able to relax themselves over time. In Experiment 2, subjects worked on a series of tests that presumably predicted success in college. They could attend as often as they wished to a light that signaled how well they were performing. Results showed that coping-style scores accurately predicted informational strategy, particularly with the monitoring dimension: High monitors tended to look at the light whereas low monitors tended to ignore it. Thus the MBSS measure of coping styles appears to be a valid instrument for predicting behavioral strategies in response to both physical and psychological stressors. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Humans
  • Personality Inventory*
  • Personality*
  • Psychometrics