Psychophysiological responses to appraisal dimensions in a computer game
Van Reekum, C. M., Johnstone, T., Banse, R., Etter, A., Wehrle, T. and Scherer, K. R. (2004) Psychophysiological responses to appraisal dimensions in a computer game. Cognition & Emotion, 18 (5). pp. 663-688. ISSN 0269-9931
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1080/02699930341000167
A computer game was used to study psychophysiological reactions to emotion-relevant events. Two dimensions proposed by Scherer (1984a, 1984b) in his appraisal theory, the intrinsic pleasantness and goal conduciveness of game events, were studied in a factorial design. The relative level at which a player performed at the moment of an event was also taken into account. A total of 33 participants played the game while cardiac activity, skin conductance, skin temperature, and muscle activity as well as emotion self-reports were assessed. The self-reports indicate that game events altered levels of pride, joy, anger, and surprise. Goal conduciveness had little effect on muscle activity but was associated with significant autonomic effects, including changes to interbeat interval, pulse transit time, skin conductance, and finger temperature. The manipulation of intrinsic pleasantness had little impact on physiological responses. The results show the utility of attempting to manipulate emotion-constituent appraisals and measure their peripheral physiological signatures.