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Cardiovascular, electrodermal, and respiratory response patterns to fear- and sadness-inducing films

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Responses to fear- and sadness-inducing films were assessed using a broad range of cardiovascular (heart rate, T-wave amplitude, low- and high-frequency heart rate variability, stroke volume, preejection period, left-ventricular ejection time, Heather index, blood pressure, pulse amplitude and transit time, and finger temperature), electrodermal (level, response rate, and response amplitude), and respiratory (rate, tidal volume and its variability, inspiratory flow rate, duty cycle, and end-tidal pCO2) measures. Subjective emotional experience and facial behavior (Corrugator Supercilii and Zygomaticus Major EMG) served as control measures. Results indicated robust differential physiological response patterns for fear, sadness, and neutral (mean classification accuracy 85%). Findings are discussed in terms of the fight–flight and conservation–withdrawal responses and possible limitations of a valence-arousal categorization of emotion in affective space.

Keywords: Autonomic nervous system; Emotion; Film; Physiological patterns; Respiration

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology, Swiss Center for Affective Sciences, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland 2: Institute for Psychology, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland 3: Department of Psychology, Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA

Publication date: September 1, 2007


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