Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

McCanne, Thomas R.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Lang; Peter J; Emotions; Psychophysiology; Imagery (Psychology)


This research investigated the relationship between exposure to a variety of emotionally laden stimuli and correspondent physiological activity generated by utilization of emotional imagery. The principal aims of this research were: (a) to replicate Lang's findings with respect to utilization of script presentations to evoke fear and anger responding} (b) to provide stimulus alternatives in the form of pictures and affective adjective cues in an effort to identify whether Lang's results are dependent on his specific choice of stimulus materials and presentation methods; (c) to identify whether differences in physiological responding and gaining access to the emotional images would generalize to situations including hostility and anxiety; and (d) to investigate how differences in self-reported imagery ability influence imagining emotionally laden material. Thirty males and 30 females, representing the extreme scorers on an initial screening measure, Sheehan's Questionnaire Upon Mental Imagery, participated in this study. During the laboratory session, subjects were presented with three types of stimuli (scripts, affective adjectives and pictures) while heart rate, respiration rate, and skin conductance level were measured. A variety of emotional contents was utilized (script condition - anger, fear, neutral; adjective condition - anxiety, hostility, neutral; picture condition - hostility, neutral). The script conditions and the affective adjectives were presented via tape recorder. The pictures were shown on a screen in front of the subject. This study replicated Lang's findings for heart rate for both fear and anger scripts. Subjects exhibited increases in heart rate and respiration rate during the presentation and imagination of fear and anger scripts. For the affective adjective condition, subjects exhibited increases in heart rate and respiration rate for the anxious and hostile adjectives, and decreases in these two physiological measures for neutral adjectives. For the card condition, subjects displayed significant increases in heart rate and respiration rate for all four cards. These findings suggest that subjects responded to less-structured stimulus formats and that differences in physiological responding and ability to gain access to emotional images will generalize to situations including hostility and anxiety. Results of this research were interpreted in terms of their implications for Lang’s bioinformational theory of emotional imagery.


Bibliography : pages 60-63.


vii, 96 pages




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