ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2019, Vol. 51 ›› Issue (8): 890-902.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2019.00890

• Reports of Empirical Studies • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Valence, arousal and appraisal of emotion influence the hand movement

TANG Rixin(),LI Jiajia,WANG Zhipeng   

  1. Department of Psychology, School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Nanjing University, 210023, China
  • Received:2018-06-04 Published:2019-08-25 Online:2019-06-24
  • Contact: Rixin TANG


The positive-negative valence of emotion affecting hand movements toward or away from the body is known as the approach-avoidance effect. Previous studies have shown that the positive images elicit quicker reaction on approach movement while negative images are sensitive to the avoidance. However, few studies have focused on how emotion affects the complete process of the movement. In current research, the effects of valence, arousal and appraisal of emotion on the dragging movement were investigated.

A push-pull task was performed on a touch screen to evaluate the ramifications which emotion holds for hand movement. Twenty-four right-handed participants volunteered in Experiments 1 and 2, and fifteen of these participants continued Experiment 3 two months later. In Experiments 1 and 3, emotional pictures with half positive and half negative valences included equal numbers of high-, medium- and low- arousal images. Participants were required to drag pictures upward or downward with their index finger. Experiment 1 and 3 differed in that only in Experiment 1 did the participants evaluate the valence of pictures. Neutral pictures as well as grey blank images were exploited in Experiment 2 to rule out the effects of other factors.

Repeated-measured ANOVA and Paired t-tests were carried out. The results illustrate that (1) approaching (pulling) the positive pictures or avoiding (pushing) the negative ones yields faster dragging movement; (2) compared to medium and low arousal, high arousal enhances the emotional effect, especially in negative condition; (3) the emotional effect diminishes when participants did not evaluate the valence of images, and when neutral images (e.g., furniture) and grey blank images were displayed.

In conclusion, this study indicates that the emotion does not only affect the reaction time of approach-avoidance movement, but also affects the latter hand movement. In addition, arousal and appraisal play an important role in this effect. This result suggests that the effects of emotion on the dragging movement might happen at the early stage and thus both movement programming and motor control are influenced by emotions.

Key words: approach-avoidance, emotion, hand movement, arousal, appraisal

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