Heartfelt grief: A within-subject experiment measuring heart rate variability

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Liegl, S., Grünbaum, T., Maran, T., Manno, S., & Sachse, P. (2020). Heartfelt grief: A within-subject experiment measuring heart rate variability. Presented at the 62nd Conference of Experimental Psychologists (TEAP), Jena, Deutschland.

Publication type

Presentation at Scholarly Conference


The experience of grief, as a reaction to loss, acts as a postgoal emotion that is typically accompanied by a depletion of behavioral vigor, with the aim to preserve an organisms' resources instead of mobilizing them for immediate action. This process should be reflected in a decreased psychophysiological activity. However, as opposed to emotions high in arousal, like lust or fear,experimental and biological psychological research has mostly neglected the topic of psychophysiological correlates of postgoal emotions. This study aimed to overcome this gap by employing a three factorial within-subject design. We presented 42 participants with three sets of visual stimuli, consisting firstly of projective iconographic pictures depicting grief scenarios, secondly of pictures from the Adult Attachment Projective Picture System, and lastly, as a control measure, neutral pictures, displaying ambiguous line art with no discernable shapes. These sets and the stimuli within each set were presented in a randomized order. Data on participants' heart rate variability were collected throughout the experiment, acting as a measure for their psychophysiological arousal. This study therefore contributes to our understanding of the effects of emotions on the functional level of our cognition.


Organizational Units

  • Institute for Entrepreneurship
  • Chair of Entrepreneurship and Leadership

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