Physiological responses induced by emotion-eliciting films

Cristina Fernández, Juan C. Pascual, Joaquim Soler, Matilde Elices, Maria J. Portella, Enrique Fernández-Abascal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

86 Citations (Scopus)


Emotion-eliciting films are commonly used to evoke subjective emotional responses in experimental settings. The main aim of the present study was to investigate whether a set of film clips with discrete emotions were capable to elicit measurable objective physiological responses. The convergence between subjective and objective measures was evaluated. Finally, the effect of gender on emotional responses was investigated. A sample of 123 subjects participated in the study. Individuals were asked to view a set of emotional film clips capable to induce seven emotions: anger, fear, sadness, disgust, amusement, tenderness and neutral state. Skin conductance level (SCL), heart rate (HR) and subjective emotional responses were measured for each film clip. In comparison with neutral films, SCL was significantly increased after viewing fear films, and HR was also significantly incremented for anger and fear films. Physiological variations were associated with arousal measures indicating a convergence between subjective and objective reactions. Women appeared to display significantly greater SCL and HR responses for films inducing sadness. The findings suggest that physiological activation would be more easily induced by emotion-eliciting films that tap into emotions with higher subjective arousal such as anger and fear. © Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-79
JournalApplied Psychophysiology Biofeedback
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2012


  • Arousal
  • Emotional films
  • Gender differences
  • Physiological response
  • Valence


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