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Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)



First Advisor

Douglas W. Matheson

First Committee Member

Gary N. Howells

Second Committee Member

Roger C. Katz


The physiological differences in happy and sad emotional reactions were measured by taking blood pressure, EMG, heart-rate, and skin-temperature while each emotion was evoked in participants. The study used films shown to participants to provoke happy and sad responses. Self-evaluation questionnaires were used to determine how aware the participants were of their physiological changes in both emotional conditions. Results indicated a decrease in systolic blood pressure, heart rate, and EMG responses, but, an increase in skin temperature while participants watched the sad film manipulation. Physiological readings taken during the happy film sequence contradicted the hypotheses of this study. Participants blood pressure, heart rate, and skin temperature readings were lower in the happy condition than in the sad. Electromyography during the happy film manipulation was the only measure to increase as predicted. Attention was paid to the differences in men and women in their physiological responses.



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