Self-report and cardiovascular measures of arousal: fractionation during residual arousal. Academic Article uri icon


  • Residual arousal has been conceptualized as a state of physiological activation that is amenable to misattribution-like processes because individuals are unaware of their aroused physiological state (Zillmann, 1978). Although there is considerable evidence showing that people in the state labeled "residual arousal" rate excitatory stimuli in a more polarized fashion (see review by Zillmann, 1983), the available evidence for the notion that residual arousal is imperceptible can alternatively be interpreted as evidence of an inability to discriminate the cause of the residual arousal. To determine the nature of the cognitive representation of residual arousal (and, hence, whether excitation transfer is likely to be a nonconscious rather than conscious misattributional process), cardiac activity and reported arousal were tracked before, during, and following exercise. Results replicated previous research showing that exercise-induced cardiac activity remained significantly elevated when subjects ceased to report feeling aroused due to the exercise. These findings were extended through the joint use of magnitude estimation and psychophysiological procedures to index what level of exercise-induced bodily activation was reportable. Results indicated that residual arousal is unperceived rather than perceived and mistaken as to its cause. Implications of the present research range from theories of arousal and of misattribution to the effects of stress-related variations in cardiac performance on cardiac detection.

published proceedings

  • Biol Psychol

author list (cited authors)

  • Cacioppo, J. T., Tassinary, L. G., Stonebraker, T. B., & Petty, R. E.

citation count

  • 22

complete list of authors

  • Cacioppo, JT||Tassinary, LG||Stonebraker, TB||Petty, RE

publication date

  • October 1987