Separating attention from arousal during TV viewing: Using heart rate variability to track variations in sympathetic and parasympathetic activation

2010 2010

Other formats: Order a copy

Abstract (summary)

Traditionally, heart rate (HR) deceleration, is used as a measure of attention to media. Though HR is under the dual control of the parasympathetic (PNS) and sympathetic nervous systems (SNS), research suggests that, in the TV viewing context, parasympathetic responses dominate the HR. Research assessing the impact of arousing content and pacing—both of which are thought to increase both PNS and SNS activation—has interpreted HR as an indicator of PNS. This study seeks to determine if the use of heart rate variability (HRV) indices which are designed to separately assess the contributions of PNS and SNS activation to changes in HR, can be used to tease out the SNS and PNS responses to mediated messages. To date HRV metrics have rarely been used in media research. Within the framework of limited capacity model of motivated message process (LC4MP) an experiment was performed measuring self-reported and physiological responses to television messages with varying arousing content, pacing and valence. Traditional HR analysis replicated the previous empirical findings and supported the theoretical predictions. However, the expectation that the HRV indices would add to our knowledge of media processing was not met. Rather the HRV results were incongruent with both the traditional analysis and theory. It is suggested that this may be because HRV is computed over the entire message and is summative in nature and therefore does not provide a measure of moment to moment change in PNS or SNS activation during message processing. It is recommended that research be undertaken to determine if computing the metrics on shorter contiguous periods during media viewing would provide information on intra-message processing.

Indexing (details)

Mass communications;
Physiological psychology
0708: Mass communications
0989: Physiological psychology
Identifier / keyword
Communication and the arts; Psychology; Attention; Heart rate; Heart rate variability; LC4MP; Motivated message process; PNS; Parasympathetic nervous systems; SNS; Sympathetic nervous systems
Separating attention from arousal during TV viewing: Using heart rate variability to track variations in sympathetic and parasympathetic activation
Kythaparampil, Koruth Jacob
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 71/07, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
Lang, Annie
Committee member
Fox, Julia R.; Grabe, Maria E.; Potter, Robert F.
Indiana University
Mass Communications/Telecommunications
University location
United States -- Indiana
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
Access the complete full text

You can get the full text of this document if it is part of your institution's ProQuest subscription.

Try one of the following:

  • Connect to ProQuest through your library network and search for the document from there.
  • Request the document from your library.
  • Go to the ProQuest login page and enter a ProQuest or My Research username / password.