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Physiological Responses to a Haunted-House Threat Experience: Distinct Tonic and Phasic Effects

Tashjian, Sarah M. and Fedrigo, Virginia and Molapour, Tanaz and Mobbs, Dean and Camerer, Colin F. (2022) Physiological Responses to a Haunted-House Threat Experience: Distinct Tonic and Phasic Effects. Psychological Science, 33 (2). pp. 236-248. ISSN 0956-7976. doi:10.1177/09567976211032231.

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Threats elicit physiological responses, the frequency and intensity of which have implications for survival. Ethical and practical limitations on human laboratory manipulations present barriers to studying immersive threat. Furthermore, few investigations have examined group effects and concordance with subjective emotional experiences to threat. The current preregistered study measured electrodermal activity in 156 adults while they participated in small groups in a 30-min haunted-house experience involving various immersive threats. Results revealed positive associations between (a) friends and tonic arousal, (b) unexpected attacks and phasic activity (frequency and amplitude), (c) subjective fear and phasic frequency, and (d) dissociable sensitization effects linked to baseline orienting response. Findings demonstrate the relevance of (a) social dynamics (friends vs. strangers) for tonic arousal and (b) subjective fear and threat predictability for phasic arousal.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper Materials
Tashjian, Sarah M.0000-0002-0946-6662
Molapour, Tanaz0000-0003-0419-9574
Mobbs, Dean0000-0003-1175-3772
Camerer, Colin F.0000-0003-4049-1871
Alternate Title:Contextual and endogenous effects on physiology during a haunted house fear induction
Additional Information:© 2022 by Association for Psychological Science. Received: October 30, 2020; Accepted: May 31, 2021. Article first published online: January 10, 2022. Open Practices: The preregistration for this experiment filed on December 27, 2019 can be accessed at Analyses and aims were preregistered after data were recorded and prior into any inspection of the data. De-identified data along with the data analysis scripts are also posted at Author Contributions: CFC and DM developed the study concept. VF, CFC, TM, and DM contributed to the study design. Data collection and preprocessing was performed by VF. Data analysis and interpretation was performed by SMT. SMT drafted the manuscript, and CFC provided critical revisions. All authors provided manuscript input, and read and approved the final version. Author asserted no Conflict of Interest.
Group:Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute for Neuroscience
Subject Keywords:fear, physiology, skin conductance, social, threat, open data, open materials, preregistered
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20201214-103544444
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Tashjian, S. M., Fedrigo, V., Molapour, T., Mobbs, D., & Camerer, C. F. (2022). Physiological Responses to a Haunted-House Threat Experience: Distinct Tonic and Phasic Effects. Psychological Science, 33(2), 236–248.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:107064
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:14 Dec 2020 22:00
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 20:43

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