Press Release 08-158 - Video John Hibbing shows the process for physiological testing of human responses to disturbing imagery.
John Hibbing, an NSF-funded researcher at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, shows the process for testing a person's physiological response to disturbing audio and visual imagery. By monitoring skin for electrical conductivity, which indicates emotion, arousal and attention, and measuring how hard the eye blinks in response to a sudden, jarring noise, the researchers were able to quantify physiological response. The results indicate that knowing a person's physiological response to disturbing stimuli is a predictor of his or her political views on "protective policies" such as defense spending and immigration. Economic policies were not included in the study and Hibbing stressed predictions would not be 100 percent accurate because other factors, such as environment and life experience also influence political views. The researchers plan to expand the scope of their study to people with weak or indifferent political views.