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Four Perspectives on the Role of Fear in Persuasion
Unformatted Document Text:  Four Perspectives on . . . 19 Reactivity and Emotional Arousal The results showed that the tonic activation levels of the behavioral inhibition and approach systems were correlated with fear arousal in ways that were largely, though not wholly, anticipated. In line H1 and H2a, scores on the BIS showed a significant positive associations with premessage fear, acceleration, and velocity. These results are compatible with a conception of the BIS as an emotion-generating, neurobiological system that varies across persons in sensitivity to aversive stimuli (Davidson, 1993; Depue & Collins, 1999; Gray, 1990). In one instance, the data departed from our expectations for the BIS. We reasoned that once fear was aroused, persons with highly active inhibition systems would continue to experience fear more intensely than individuals who possess less active systems because system activation would decay less readily for the high BIS group. Thus, H2b anticipated a negative relationship between BIS and deceleration. The data, however, showed a positive association. Although this result refutes our slower-decay hypothesis, it can be understood in simple terms. BIS is positively correlated with deceleration because high BIS persons experienced higher levels of fear and, thus, had further to fall toward baseline after reading the recommendation portion of the message. Indeed, based on a median split of BIS, the mean deceleration score of .84 for the high BIS group is greater than the .68 of the low BIS group. 4 Though unexpected, this interpretation is not at odds with existing theories of BIS and BAS. It suggests that individual differences in BIS yield up variations in the intensity, but not the duration, of emotional response. It is important to recognize the extent to which this explanation is qualified by our methodology. Because our measures of emotion were simply before-and-after, we cannot rule

Authors: Dillard, James. and Anderson, Jason.
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Four Perspectives on . . .
19
Reactivity and Emotional Arousal
The results showed that the tonic activation levels of the behavioral inhibition and
approach systems were correlated with fear arousal in ways that were largely, though not wholly,
anticipated. In line H1 and H2a, scores on the BIS showed a significant positive associations
with premessage fear, acceleration, and velocity. These results are compatible with a conception
of the BIS as an emotion-generating, neurobiological system that varies across persons in
sensitivity to aversive stimuli (Davidson, 1993; Depue & Collins, 1999; Gray, 1990).
In one instance, the data departed from our expectations for the BIS. We reasoned that
once fear was aroused, persons with highly active inhibition systems would continue to
experience fear more intensely than individuals who possess less active systems because system
activation would decay less readily for the high BIS group. Thus, H2b anticipated a negative
relationship between BIS and deceleration. The data, however, showed a positive association.
Although this result refutes our slower-decay hypothesis, it can be understood in simple terms.
BIS is positively correlated with deceleration because high BIS persons experienced higher
levels of fear and, thus, had further to fall toward baseline after reading the recommendation
portion of the message. Indeed, based on a median split of BIS, the mean deceleration score of
.84 for the high BIS group is greater than the .68 of the low BIS group.
4
Though unexpected, this
interpretation is not at odds with existing theories of BIS and BAS. It suggests that individual
differences in BIS yield up variations in the intensity, but not the duration, of emotional
response.
It is important to recognize the extent to which this explanation is qualified by our
methodology. Because our measures of emotion were simply before-and-after, we cannot rule


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