An Analysis of Physiological Arousal in Response to Sad and Fearful Video Stimuli
Journal of Advanced Student Sciences (JASS)
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Sadness and fear are two emotions that play an important role in acclimating to our environment. Sadness has often been associated with a decrease in response to one’s environment, while fear is thought to activate the fight-or-flight response. However, emotions are perceived differently and at variable intensities according to an individual’s past experiences. To measure the effects of these emotions, we examined the physiological variables of heart rate, blood pressure and skin conductance on 20 participants after watching both fearful and sad video stimuli. We also had each participant complete a survey about the emotion they experienced while watching each video, as well as the intensity of that emotion. We hypothesized that the fearful stimuli would result in a greater increase in all three physiological measurements when compared to the sad stimuli. The results support a significant increase in heart rate following the fearful stimuli compared to the sad stimuli, suggesting an evolutionary relationship between the autonomic nervous system and fear. Our results did not indicate a significant relationship between the fearful or sad stimuli and blood pressure or skin conductance. A video screening tool similar to the equipment used in our study could have future implications as a diagnostic tool for disorders encompassing emotion recognition deficits or inappropriate physiological responses to emotional stimuli.
An article that appeared in JASS, issue 2016