Embodying approach motivation: body posture influences startle eyeblink and event-related potential responses to appetitive stimuli.Biol Psychol. 2012 Jul; 90(3):211-7.BP
Past research suggested that the motivational significance of images influences reflexive and electrocortical responses to those images (Briggs and Martin, 2009; Gard et al., 2007; Schupp et al., 2004), with erotica often exerting the largest effects for appetitive pictures (Grillon and Baas, 2003; Weinberg and Hajcak, 2010). This research paradigm, however, compares responses to different types of images (e.g., erotica vs. exciting sports scenes). This past motivational interpretation, therefore, would be further supported by experiments wherein appetitive picture content is held constant and motivational states are manipulated with a different method. In the present experiment, we tested the hypothesis that changes in physical postures associated with approach motivation influences reflexive and electrocortical responses to appetitive stimuli. Past research has suggested that bodily manipulations (e.g., facial expressions) play a role in emotion- and motivation-related physiology (Ekman and Davidson, 1993; Levenson et al., 1990). Extending these results, leaning forward (associated with a heightened urge to approach stimuli) relative to reclining (associated with less of an urge to approach stimuli) caused participants to have smaller startle eyeblink responses during appetitive, but not neutral, picture viewing. Leaning relative to reclining also caused participants to have larger LPPs to appetitive but not neutral pictures, and influenced ERPs as early as 100ms into stimulus viewing. This evidence suggests that body postures associated with approach motivation causally influence basic reflexive and electrocortical reactions to appetitive emotive stimuli.