Bodily changes during emotion are variable

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Chapter 1 endnote 25, from How Emotions are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett.
Some context is:

Many such studies found great variability in physical measurements, meaning no clear pattern of bodily changes that distinguished emotions. [...] Distinctions were of affect only.

For examples of variation in bodily changes during emotions, compare Stephens et al. (2010)[1] vs. Kragel & LaBar (2013).[2] During scary movies, viewers’ respiration rate increased in one study but remained unchanged in another. During sad material, skin conductance decreased in one study but remained unchanged in another.

If we look across hundreds of experiments that measure physiological changes during emotion (in a meta-analysis), we always see evidence of this variation.[3][4][5]

Notes on the Notes

  1. Stephens, Chad L., Israel C. Christie, and Bruce H. Friedman. 2010. "Autonomic specificity of basic emotions: evidence from pattern classification and cluster analysis." Biological Psychology 84 (3), 463-473.
  2. Kragel, Philip A., and Kevin S. LaBar. 2013. "Multivariate pattern classification reveals autonomic and experiential representations of discrete emotions." Emotion 13 (4): 681-690.
  3. Cacioppo, John T., Gary G. Berntson, Jeff T. Larsen, Kirsten M. Poehlmann, and Tiffany A. Ito. 2000. "The psychophysiology of emotion." In Handbook of Emotions, 2nd edition, edited by Michael Lewis and Jeannette M. Haviland-Jones, 173-191. New York: Guilford Press.
  4. Quigley, Karen S. and Barrett, Lisa Feldman. 2014. "Is there consistency and specificity of autonomic changes during emotional episodes? Guidance from the Conceptual Act Theory and psychophysiology." Biological Psychology 98: 82-94.    
  5. Siegel, E. H., Sands, M. K., van den Noortgate, W., Condon, P., Chang, Y., Dy, J., Quigley, K. S. & Barrett, L. F. Under review. "Emotion fingerprints or emotion populations? A meta-analytic investigation of autonomic features of emotion categories."