Scoring Criteria for Electrodermal Habituation: Further Research


  • Research reported in this article was supported in part by the German Federal Government under Research Grant InSan I-1483-V-9083 to W.D. Frölhlich. We wish to thank Bob Edelberg and Bob Barry, whose comments on an earlier version of this paper were much appreciated.

Address requests for reprints to: Gerhard Vossel, Psychologisches Institut der Universität Mainz, Saarstr. 21/Staudingerweg 9, D-6500 Mainz, West Germany.


In the context of Levinson and Edelberg's critique of scoring criteria for electrodermal habituation, the present study examined the question of whether trials-to-habituation scores based on two no-response trials are superior to scores based on three no-response trials. Male students (N=120) performed two identical habituation experiments on two consecutive days and their skin conductance responses based on a short latency window of 1–3 s were analyzed. In each experiment subjects received 20 presentations of a 1000 Hz tone at 65dB. Results showed that three-trials scores were higher overall and that the distributions of three- and two-trials scores differed. On the other hand, the twoscores had comparable retest-reliabilities, displayed similar correlations with regression indices and resting nonspecific activity, and reliably reflected the changes in habituation speed from the first to the second session. Furthermore, three- and two-trials scores were found to be highly interrelated. It was concluded that the findings obtained for our particular sub-population of male students do not favor one or the other of the two scoring methods for trials-to-habituation scores and that the establishment of standardized scoring criteria should be attempted.