Working draft:

What are you feeling?


Schachter's research on emotion involved the idea that an emotion was a combination of physiological arousal and a cognitive label. Given arousal how do people interpret it?

In the Suproxim experiment, subjects were led to think that the purpose of the experiment was to look at the effects of vitamin injections on visual skills. Instead, some of the subjects were injected with adrenaline (Epinephrine), to provide heightened arousal, others received a saline injection. The subjects were given a description of side-effects (they might feel flushed, their hands might shake, and their hearts might pound), misinformed about the side-effects, or told nothing. Experimental activities encouraged subjects to label the experience as either euphoria or anger, by having a stooge act either angry or happy in a waiting room.

Subjects were given thorough health checks in advance, and debriefed afterwards. (How thoroughly, and how long?)

"... no attempt at replication was made until 1979 when Marshall and Zimbardo failed to obtain the same results as the original study. "

"The results were actually inconclusive. For example, placebo participants did not report significantly less emotion than participants who experienced unexplained arousal, and participants in the anger condition actually tended to rate their emotional state as mildly happy."

Maslach (1979) used post-hypnotic induction to produce arousal, without clear results, and she suggested that we look to more than the immediate situation when making attributions about arousal state -- and high arousal is more often associated with negative events.

Variants or related studies have tried to supply bogus heart-beat feedback via audio tapes to imply increased arousal (while watching snakes, reading Playboy, etc.).


This does involve deception, but the procedure is really similar to much medical research (certainly at that time), vis a vis placebos and such.