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Research Methods in a Laboratory Study of Personality, Emotion, and Physiological Activity: Considerations and Choices

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By: & Published: 2018 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 2
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Abstract

The way individuals respond to emotional episodes may be influenced by their dispositional motivational tendencies. Of special interest are those interactions between emotion and motivational attributes that affect cardiovascular activity and may thereby contribute to the onset and development of cardiovascular disease. To determine the links between emotions, motivational attributes, and cardiovascular health, we recently conducted a study in which participants were asked to recall two events: one that made them feel angry and one that made them sad. Measures of blood pressure and heart rate were obtained while participants recalled and described these emotional events. Participants also completed questionnaires measuring motivational tendencies toward behavioral activation and behavioral inhibition. In this article, we discuss important methodical considerations that arose as we developed this study, including design choices that are relevant to many kinds of research questions (e.g., using continuous predictor variables and a within-subjects experimental design) and choices that were more specific to our particular research questions (e.g., how to induce emotions and assess cardiovascular responses to emotional provocation). The resulting methodological discussion therefore may help inform future research, particularly that utilizing individual difference predictors, experimental emotion inductions, and cardiovascular dependent measures.

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