Predicting facial valence to negative stimuli from resting RSA: Not a function of active emotion regulation Academic Article uri icon


  • This research examined the relationship between emotional expressivity and respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA). A total of 94 healthy undergraduate participants watched a 2 minute movie that was either hedonically positive or negative and reported their emotional response to the film. Skin conductance, number of electrodermal responses (EDRs) and cardiac vagal control (respiratory sinus arrhythmia; RSA) were measured for the 2 minutes prior to and during the film. Facial expressions were videotaped during movie presentation and later rated in terms of valence. Regression analyses revealed that participants with higher baseline RSA levels expressed less negative (i.e., more neutral) facial affect to the negative film, but resting RSA did not predict facial valence to the positive film. In addition, RSA did not predict self-reported affect or sympathetic reactivity (EDRs), indicating that the pattern of facial responding exhibited by individuals with higher resting RSA was not the result of an active response modulation process (e.g., facial suppression or stimulus reappraisal). Although baseline RSA predicted RSA reactivity during the negative film, RSA reactivity did not predict facial valence. Results are discussed in terms of the relationship between cardiac vagal control, emotional expression, and self-regulation ability. 2006 Psychology Press Ltd.

published proceedings

  • Cognition & Emotion

author list (cited authors)

  • Demaree, H., Pu, J., Robinson, J., Schmeichel, B., & Everhart, E.

complete list of authors

  • Demaree, Heath||Pu, Jie||Robinson, Jennifer||Schmeichel, Brandon||Everhart, Erik

publication date

  • January 1, 2006 11:11 AM