When head is tempered by heart: Heart rate variability modulates perception of other-blame reducing anger

León, Inmaculada; Hernández, Juan; Rodríguez, Sonia; Vila, Jaime
March 2009
Motivation & Emotion;Mar2009, Vol. 33 Issue 1, p1
Academic Journal
This study examined the relationship between heart rate variability (HRV), as an index of individual differences in emotion regulation, and perception of other-blame, as a mechanism of anger induction. The physiological responses were recorded while subjects read a story from a computer screen. The story narrated a negative event in self-referred way -dismissal from a job as the result of a colleague’s action- under conditions of intentionality versus non-intentionality. Cognitive and emotional variables were assessed by questionnaire immediately after the physiological test. The resulting structural model supports the conclusion that HRV exerts its regulatory influence directly on perception of other-blame rather than on emotion. In situations of intentionality, individuals with higher HRV make less extreme evaluation of the offender’s blame, versus those with lower HRV, thus leading to a reduction in anger reaction. These results suggest that HRV is a direct index of cognitive rather than emotional regulation.


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