Effects of unrecognized physiological residual arousal on emotional experience

Motohiro Nakajima, Wei Ju Chen, Raymond Fleming

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study investigated the effect of residual arousal on perceived positive and negative emotion, and the relationship between the valence of emotion and cardiovascular and cardiorespiratory reactivity. A total of 74 participants were randomly assigned to either a Residual Arousal (exercise-induced) group or a No Residual Arousal (no exercise) group. Following the arousal manipulation, participants watched a video that elicited positive emotion and a video that elicited negative emotion. Within-person differences revealed greater discrepancies between participants’ reports of positive and negative emotions in response to the videos, indicating that residual arousal caused stronger positive and negative emotions. With regard to physiological reactivity, participants in the No Residual Arousal group exhibited lower heart rate, respiration amplitude, and heart rate variability (LF/HF ratio) during the negative video than during the positive video, suggesting that the positive and negative videos had different influences on physiology. These results support the hypothesis that autonomic activation may be nonspecific with regard to the genesis of emotion, but once a person becomes emotional, physiological reactivity may differ between emotions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12103
JournalJournal of Applied Biobehavioral Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2017


  • emotion
  • nonspecific autonomic activation
  • physiology
  • residual arousal


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