Trait emotions and affective modulation of the startle eyeblink: on the unique relationship of trait anger.Emotion. 2011 Feb; 11(1):47-51.E
We examined relationships among individual differences in trait emotions and the emotion-modulated startle-eyeblink response. In particular, we examined the extent to which trait anger, which is negative in valence, would be associated with a pattern of approach motivation in startle eyeblink responses to appetitive stimuli. Self-reported trait emotions were compared with emotion-modulated startle eyeblink responses to auditory probes during appetitive, aversive, and neutral pictures. Results revealed that trait anger, enjoyment, and surprise were each associated with greater blink inhibition to appetitive pictures, indicating an approach motivational response. No other trait emotions were associated with startle eyeblink responses to appetitive or aversive pictures. These results support the idea that trait anger, although experienced as a negative emotion, is associated with an approach-related motivational response to appetitive stimuli at basic, reflexive levels of processing.