The research study had three conditions.
- Unpredictable noise
- Predictable noise
- No noise (control group)
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The researchers found that the unpredictable noise group showed a higher level of frustration, and their ability to solve puzzles was reduced after the noises. This was not found with predictable noise - there was little difference between the other groups.
Interestingly, the researchers also tested what happened when the noises stopped. They found that if participants were led to believe that they had control over ending the unpredictable noise, their behaviour recovered more quickly.
Glass, D.C., Singer, J.E. and Friedman, L.N. (1969). Psychic cost of adaptation to an environmental stressor. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 12(3), 200-210.