Skip to main content

Affect Arousal

  • Reference work entry
  • 1555 Accesses


Activation; Arousal; Energy; Tension


Affect arousal is the state of being activated, either physiologically or psychologically, and is one dimension of our affective response to emotional stimuli. Psychological characteristics of arousal include feelings of vigor, energy, and tension. Physiological symptoms of arousal include increased heart rate and blood pressure, among other changes.


Affect arousal describes the state of feeling awake, activated, and highly reactive to stimuli. There are both psychological and physiological components to the state of arousal. Psychologically, the state of arousal is associated with the subjective experience of feelings including high energy and tension. Physiologically, the body is in a state of relative heightened responsiveness, and is prepared for action through the activation of various neural (limbic) and bodily systems (e.g., the sympathetic nervous system). The state of arousal is usually prompted by external,...

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
USD   1,199.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Learn about institutional subscriptions

References and Readings

  • Cannon, W. B. (1932). The wisdom of the body. New York: WW Norton.

    Google Scholar 

  • Russell, J. A. (1980). A circumplex model of affect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 39, 1161–1178.

    Google Scholar 

  • Storbeck, J., & Clore, G. L. (2008). Affective arousal as information: How affective arousal influences judgments, learning, and memory. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 2, 1824–1843.

    Google Scholar 

  • Strelau, J., & Eysenck, H. J. (1987). Personality dimensions and arousal. New York: Plenum Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Thayer, R. E. (1978). Toward a psychological theory of multidimensional activation (arousal). Motivation and Emotion, 2, 1–34.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Karen Niven .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2013 Springer Science+Business Media, New York

About this entry

Cite this entry

Niven, K., Miles, E. (2013). Affect Arousal. In: Gellman, M.D., Turner, J.R. (eds) Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine. Springer, New York, NY.

Download citation

  • DOI:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, New York, NY

  • Print ISBN: 978-1-4419-1004-2

  • Online ISBN: 978-1-4419-1005-9

  • eBook Packages: MedicineReference Module Medicine