Autonomic arousal feedback and emotional experience: Evidence from the spinal cord injured
Chwalisz, K., Diener, E., & Gallagher, D. (1988). Autonomic arousal feedback and emotional experience: Evidence from the spinal cord injured. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54(5), 820.
We interviewed spinal-cord-injured, other handicapped, and nonhandicapped subjects to investigate the relation between the perception of autonomic arousal and experienced emotion. The three groups differed significantly on only one measure of affect intensity, with the spinal-cord-injured subjects more often reporting stronger fear in their lives now compared with the past. In addition, spinal-cord-injured subjects often described intense emotional experiences. Spinal-cord-injured subjects who differed in their level of autonomic feedback differed in intensity on several measures. Subjects with greater autonomic feedback tended to report more intense levels of negative emotions. The findings indicate that the perception of autonomic arousal may not be necessary for emotional experience. There were weak trends in our data, however, suggesting that the perception of arousal may enhance the experience of emotional intensity. The subjective well-being reports of the handicapped groups were comparable to those of nonhandicapped subjects, indicating successful coping with their disability.
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