Psychological Correlates of Nonspecific Skin Conductance Responses


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Previous research has indicated that the frequency of skin conductance responses without external stimulation or motor activity is a reliable indicator of psychophysiological states and traits. Some authors have suggested that cognitions elicit nonspecific skin conductance responses. These cognitions may resemble the stimuli that evoke a specific skin conductance response. In a within subjects design (n=31 graduate students) the onset of nonspecific skin conductance responses triggered a signal for the subject to rate cognitions on several indices. These ratings (“absent” to “fully present”) were compared with samples in the absence of phasic electrodermal activity. The subjects’current concerns, negative emotion, subjective arousal, and inner speech were rated to be significantly more intense at the time of nonspecific skin conductance responses compared to electrodermal nonresponding periods. Cognitive processes seem to be concomitants of nonspecific skin conductance responses.