Emotional Reactions While Watching Graphic Medical Procedures: Vocational Differences in the Explicit Regulation of Emotions


  • This study was conducted at the Georgia State University, Atlanta. This article is based on the Master's thesis of the first author, under the direction of the second author. Preliminary findings of this study were first presented at the 44th annual meeting of the Society for Psychophysiological Research, Santa Fe, NM, October 2004. The authors thank Ursula Hess for her helpful comments on an earlier draft of the paper; Carolyn Kee for her advice as a member of the Master's thesis committee; Lisa Dimantova and Kristin Alexander for their assistance with data collection; and Sean Rossi for assisting with the data-reduction process.

Christina H. Vlahou, School of Psychology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, 54124 Thessaloniki, Greece. E-mail: cvlahou@auth.gr


We examined the role of occupation in how people regulate emotional responses. Graduate nursing students were compared to undergraduate psychology students on self-reported emotional reactions to videos depicting graphic medical procedures. Skin conductance was also recorded. Overall, nursing students reported less disgust and fear, but more sadness while watching the clips, compared to psychology students. The 2 groups did not differ in skin conductance activity when watching a video with no specific instructions. When instructed to suppress or reappraise their emotional reactions to the videos, however, the psychology students showed increases in skin conductance arousal, whereas the nursing students did not. The results are discussed within the context of research on strategies to regulate one's emotions in the workplace.