Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 11–24 | Cite as

False autonomic feedback: Effects of attention to feedback on ratings of erotic stimuli

  • Brian Parkinson
  • A. S. R. Manstead


This study examines the roles played by sound track type, attention to sound track, and meaning of sound track in mediating the effects of false autonomic feedback on attractiveness ratings of erotic stimuli. Male subjects were instructed either to ignore or to pay attention to a pulsed or continuous sound track that was described either as heart-rate feedback or as a neutral auditory stimulus while slides of nude females were shown. Slides associated with a change in either the pulsed sound track or the continuous-tone sound track (increase slides) were subsequently rated as significantly more attractive than those associated with steady sound (stable slides). This effect was contingent on the meaning given to the auditory stimuli, with subjects in the “heart-rate” condition showing a stronger tendency to rate increase slides more positively than stable slides, by comparison with subjects in the “neutral sounds” condition. Within the heart-rate condition, subjects told to pay attention to the feedback showed greater rating differences between these two types of slide than those told to ignore it. This pattern of findings contrasts with those of an earlier experiment (Parkinson & Manstead, 1981), where differential unpleasantness ratings of slides of skin diseases depended on the attention paid to the sound track but not on its meaning. It is concluded that the effects of false autonomic feedback are contingent upon the kind of emotional stimuli that are presented.


Early Experiment Skin Disease Male Subject Auditory Stimulus Strong Tendency 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brian Parkinson
    • 1
  • A. S. R. Manstead
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of ManchesterManchesterEngland

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