Two factor theory of emotion
Cognitive, Social, and Physiological Determinants of
Emotional State, Psychological Review, 1962, 69, 379-399.
Online description of the study: http://www.garysturt.free-online.co.uk/schacter.htm
Dutton, D. G. and Aron, A. P. (1974) Some evidence for heightened sexual attraction under conditions of high anxiety, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 30, 510-517
What is the effect of certain
cognitive stimuli on the human body? This is a topic fundamental
to game design and happily for us, there is an existing body of work
in the academic world. As with most such areas, existing research
is focused on medical issues as opposed to entertainment.
“Psychophysiological measures are often used to study emotion and attention responses in response to stimuli. Loud startle tones, emotionally charged pictures, videos, and tasks are presented and psychophysiological measures are used to examine responses”
“[…] there are several psychophysiological measures that may be used to capture player’s emotional and attentional responses. First, tonic and phasic HR can be used to index emotional arousal and attention, respectively. Second, EDA is also a very sensitive index of emotional arousal. Third, facial EMG measured from the zygomaticus major and corrugator supercilii muscle areas can be used to index positive and negative emotions, respectively (i.e., the valence of an emotional experience). Finally, EEG can be used to measure both emotional valence and attention.”
“In conditioning experiments performed by Joseph LeDoux at New York University (2), rats were administered a mild electric shock in conjunction with an auditory tone. The rats soon responded to the tone alone with a fearful response: increased blood pressure, faster breathing, and motionlessness.”
Here is an example exercise
that demonstrates how a detailed description can trigger a physical
reaction due to relevant stimuli. It is somewhat more controlled
than your typical movie-goers experience, but the same principles apply.
Instruct another person to close their eyes and then read her the following passage. Ask her to focus on visualizing each detail as clearly as possible. Some subjects experience increased salivation and report being able to ‘taste’ the lemon.
Imagine a pure white plate with a lemon on it, resting on a table. See the glossy yellow of the lemon’s skin against the whiteness of the china plate. Notice the texture of the lemon. It looks clean and fresh. There is a knife on the table, next to the plate. Now imagine that you’re picking up the knife. You hold the lemon on the plate with one hand, and with the other, using the knife, you cut the lemon in two, hearing the knife cut through the lemon and hit the plate. The citrus odor immediately hits your nose: sharp, clean, pungent, delicious, invigorating.
Now you pick up one of the lemon halves, with the juice still dripping onto your fingers and onto the plate. Using the knife again, you cut a wedge from the lemon half, raise the wedge to your mouth, and touch your tongue against it gently. Every taste bud in your tongue is drenched with the tangy lemon juice as your mouth puckers instinctively. A shiver goes up and down your spine, and your shoulders shake. Picture for a moment the lemon, the cutting, the tastes, the smells…Whenever you are ready; you can bring this image to a close.
Everyone’s favorite clichéd design topic. The Wired article demonstrates our strong reliance on relevant stimuli.
Reality television shows are masters of experiential games that evoke emotions in their players. If you are deeply curious about how this works, I might recommend watching any episode of any season of The Bachelor. There will be tears.
In my previous essays I’ve discussed skill atoms and skill chains. Relevant stimuli are represented in skill chains as a ‘red herring atoms’, a set of player triggered stimuli that evoke experiences outside of the game.http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/1524/the_chemistry_of_game_design.php