Term of Award

Spring 2024

Degree Name

Master of Science in Experimental Psychology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Digital Commons@Georgia Southern License


Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Ty W. Boyer

Committee Member 1

Cassandra L. Baldwin

Committee Member 2

Lawrence Locker, Jr.


Empirical evidence suggests that as one exerts cognitive effort their pupils dilate. Yet recent research also demonstrates that psychosensory pupil dilation is an indicator of affective processes, such as fear, excitement, or anxiety. Mathematical problem-solving presents a unique situation in which both cognitive effort and anxiety are likely to be elicited. We conducted a pupillometry study that aimed to explore questions about the cognitive and affective correlates of the psychosensory pupillary response. Participants were presented with surveys of cognitive effort and mathematics anxiety, followed by a modular math task that included problems that require either low or high cognitive demands, while pupillary responses were continuously measured. Data collection proceeded until the stop date necessary to analyze the obtained data for thesis defense and timely graduation. Regression analyses demonstrated that problem difficulty predicted pupil dilation. However, no statistically significant result was found when testing whether cognitive effort, mathematics anxiety, or their interaction may also predict psychosensory pupil dilation in response to the math problems.

OCLC Number


Research Data and Supplementary Material