Cardiovascular and electrocortical markers of anger and motivation during a simulated driving task

Stephen H. Fairclough*, Elena Spiridon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


The experience of anger may have consequences for the long-term health of the individual. The psychophysiological manifestation of anger can vary in response to the motivational context of anger provocation. The current study was designed to investigate how motivational context (challenge vs. threat) influenced the cardiovascular system and frontal EEG asymmetry. 29 male participants completed a simulated driving journey with a fixed time schedule. Anger was induced by exposing participants to traffic delays at an early (challenge) and later point (threat) on the simulated route. A number of dependent variables were recorded, including 32 channels of EEG, measures of cardiovascular impedance, blood pressure and fEMG activity from the corrugator supercilii. The results indicated that traffic delays significantly increased blood pressure, heart rate, TPR and corrugator activity whilst reducing the relative level of left frontal activation in the EEG. However, there was little evidence for a consistent distinction between the early (challenge) and late (threat) introduction of traffic delay. The consequences of these findings for capturing the cardiovascular and electrocortical responses to anger induction are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)188-193
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Psychophysiology
Issue number2
Early online date24 Feb 2012
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Anger
  • Cardiovascular system
  • Driving
  • Frontal asymmetry


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