Is the Startle Reaction an Emotion?
This chapter looks at a study that determines the extent to which the startle reaction is influenced by three cognitive activities. One experimental condition examined the role of expectations by telling subjects exactly when they would be startled. Another condition explored how well the startle expression can be suppressed, and a third condition investigated how well the startle expression can be simulated. It also verified Landis and Hunt's account about the remarkable uniformity and brevity of the startle expression, features that might distinguish a startle from emotions such as anger or fear. Some of the methodological defects in Landis and Hunt's study are also remedied. Although their study was exemplary for its time, Landis and Hunt did not report how they made their behavioral measurements, they did not mention interobserver reliability, and often they omitted the quantitative data and significance tests that presumably were the bases for many of their key findings. The paper on startle and emotion and the study of the Latah syndrome are described.
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