Verbally labelling emotional stimuli has been shown to reliably decrease emotional responding. The present study compared the use of identical emotional labels during two types of verbal labelling: subjective labelling of one's own emotional response and objective labelling of the stimulus. We recorded skin conductance responses (SCRs) to emotional pictures presented at four brief durations preceding a backward mask. We observed that as the exposure duration increased, SCRs decreased during objective labelling of the stimuli. However, when participants subjectively labelled their own emotional state, SCRs increased as exposure duration increased. In addition, subjective labelling produced larger SCRs than objective labelling at a shorter exposure duration when the presented stimuli were biologically prepared. These results indicate that only objective labelling results in decreased emotional responding, and describe a novel interaction between bottom-up stimulus characteristics and top-down cognitive effects on physiological responses.
- Backward mask
- Biologically prepared
- Skin conductance
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)