False autonomic feedback: Effects of attention to feedback on ratings of pleasant and unpleasant target stimuli
Parkinson B., Colgan L.
This study investigates the potential interactions among some of the key variables in Valins's (1966) false autonomic feedback paradigm. Subjects were shown mildly pleasant or mildly unpleasant slides of animals while they either paid attention to or ignored a continuous-tone soundtrack that increased in pitch in conjunction with half of the pictures. This soundtrack was described either as feedback of skin conductance level or as a neutral auditory stimulus. Slides associated with increased pitch were generally rated as more affectively potent (in either the positive or negative direction, depending on their initial affective valence). For pleasant slides, this effect was contingent on attention to the soundtrack, such that subjects ignoring the sounds showed a stronger differential rating effect regardless of the meaning ascribed to the sound. For both pleasant and unpleasant slide conditions, the only subject groups showing significant rating effects were those ignoring neutrally described sound. It is argued that this pattern of results poses severe problems for a conventional attributional analysis of the "Valins effect." © 1988 Plenum Publishing Corporation.