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Linda Tennison, Psychology


This study sought to determine if there is a correlation between an individual’s heart rate variability (HRV) and their score on the Empathy Quotient test. This experiment was designed as an ABAB model, where a baseline experiment is run, and then an experimental run follows. A baseline measurement was taken for each participant. Then participants were instructed to either read an emotionally triggering excerpt from Browning’s Reflection on a Massacre first or a neutral excerpt from The Constitution of Liberty by Friedrich Hayek. The participants were then be instructed to stop reading the excerpt to have them return to baseline HRV. A baseline measure was taken again. Then participants were then instructed to read the second article. Researchers observed and calculated any differences between a participants HRV during the baseline testing and the manipulation period of the two readings, then correlated those with their scores on the Empathy Quotient Test. The design of our study is a two by three factorial design. We measured participants on whether they score high or low of the Empathy Quotient and how much HRV was observed during both the neutral reading and emotionally triggering reading. Our hypothesis is: the higher a participant scores on the Empathy Scale, the higher their HRV will be.

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