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Blood pressure changes highlight gender differences in emotional reactivity to arousing pictures

Authors
Journal
Biological Psychology
0301-0511
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
70
Issue
3
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2005.01.005
Keywords
  • Gender Differences
  • Blood Pressure
  • Heart Rate
  • Skin Conductance
  • Emotional Pictures
  • Erotic Stimuli

Abstract

Abstract The current study was aimed at investigating the effects of gender on the magnitude and patterning of blood pressure responses to specific pleasant and unpleasant, arousing visual stimuli. Systolic and diastolic blood pressure (SBP and DBP), as well as heart rate (HR) and skin conductance (SCR) responses were investigated during picture viewing in 21 female and 25 male students. The pattern of SCR and HR reactivity across emotional categories was found to be similar for men and women. Gender was found to be an effective moderator of BP responses specifically to sexual stimulus content, which prompted greater reactivity in men than in women. These findings extend prior research on gender differences in autonomic responding to emotional visual stimuli and suggest that BP changes might reflect sexual peripheral arousal more than other autonomic measures.

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