On the Physiology of Interruption After Unexpectedness

Marret K. Noordewier, Daan T. Scheepers, John F. Stins, Muriel A. Hagenaars
2021 Biological Psychology  
We tested whether surprise elicits similar physiological changes as those associated with orienting and freezing after threat, as surprise also involves a state of interruption and attention for effective action. Moreover, because surprise is primarily driven by the unexpectedness of an event, initial physiological responses were predicted to be similar for positive, neutral, and negative surprises. Results of repetition-change studies (4 + 1 in Supplemental Materials) showed that surprise
more » ... s heart rate (Experiments 1-4) and increases blood pressure (Experiment 4). No effects on body movement (Experiment 2) or finger temperature (Experiment 4) were found. When unexpected stimuli were presented more often (making them less surprising) heart rate returned to baseline, while blood pressure remained high (Experiment 4). These effects were not influenced by stimulus valence. However, second-to-second analyses within the first (surprising) block showed a tendency for a stronger increase in systolic blood pressure after negative vs. positive surprise.
doi:10.1016/j.biopsycho.2021.108174 pmid:34453984 fatcat:2vn2iu6w2bbxtdn3twq2xou3pe