Date of Award

Fall 8-1-1973

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Recent research with animals indicates that stress applied during pregnancy can influence the emotionality of the offspring (Thompson, 1957; Fazzaro, 1971). The present study x^as designed to investigate the effects of escapable versus inescapable electric shock, administered during pregnancy, on the behavior of the offspring. Female Sprague-Dawley albino rats were mated and placed into three groups. Group I females were given daily sessions of twenty-five, escapable, 0.6mA shocks from Day 10 through Day 16 of pregnancy. Group II females were given the same amount of inescapable shock. Control subjects were placed in the shock apparatus for an equivalent amount of time but shock was never administered. The offspring were tested for ambulation in an open-field for three consecutive days at 60-80 days of age. They were also tested for avoidance acquisition in a two-way shuttlebox for three consecutive days at 66-93 days of age. The primary data for the latter test consisted of number of avoidances and number of intertrial responses (ITRs). The overall results suggest that the Group II (N=30) offspring were less emotional than either the Group I (N-25) or Control (N=22) offspring. This was inferred from their superior performance in the avoidance acquisition test (also increased ITRs) and their increased activity in the open-field. The Group I offspring were intermediate between the Group II and Control JSs in shuttlebox performance and open-field activity.