STUDY ALERT: Physiological correlates and emotional specificity of human piloerection

by Scott Barry Kaufman, July 17, 2017 in Blog, Study Alerts

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Physiological correlates and emotional specificity of human piloerection

Mathias Benedeka & Christian Kaernbachb

Piloerection is known as an indicator of strong emotional experiences. However, little is known about the physiological and emotional specificity of this psychophysiological response. In the presented study, piloerection was elicited by audio stimuli taken from music and film episodes. The physiological response accompanying the incidence of piloerection was recorded with respect to electrodermal, cardiovascular and respiratory measures and compared to a matched control condition. The employment of an optical recording system allowed for a direct and objective assessment of visible piloerection. The occurrence of piloerection was primarily accompanied by an increase of phasic electrodermal activity and increased respiration depth as compared to a matched control condition. This physiological response pattern is discussed in the context of dominant theories of human piloerection. Consideration of all available evidence suggests that emotional piloerection represents a valuable indicator of the state of being moved or touched.

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