ISSN 2043-8087
Journal of Experimental Psychopathology
 Volume 4, Issue 4, 435-447, 2013
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Video-Based Analysis of Bodily Startle and Subsequent Emotional Facial Expression in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Jens Blechert(a), Tanja Michael(b), and Frank H. Wilhelm(a)
(a) Division of Clinical Psychology, Psychotherapy, and Health Psychology, Department of Psychology, University of Salzburg, Austria.
(b) Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Saarland University, Campus, D-66123 Saarbrucken

Volume 4, Issue 4, 2013, Pages 435-447

Exaggerated startle is a core hyperarousal symptom of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Observational studies on the characteristics of this response are strikingly lacking. Previous research has demonstrated that detailed video analysis of facial and bodily responses to startling stimuli enables the differentiation of an initial, primarily reflexive response and a secondary, primary emotional response. We exposed PTSD patients (n = 34) and trauma-exposed but healthy participants (TE group, n = 26) to startling electric stimuli while acquiring observational behavioral, psychophysiological, and experiential measures. Videographic results indicate that PTSD patients' initial bodily startle response was stronger than in the TE group, and their secondary facial expression was more negatively valenced, largely due to elevated anger expression. Videographic assessment of primary and secondary startle responses provides a new window into reflexive and emotional functioning of PTSD and may therefore complement existing startle measures. PTSD treatments should address bodily startle, negative symptom appraisals, and anger more specifically.

Table of Contents
Apparatus, Physiological Recordings, Data Reduction
Videographic Behaviour Assessment
Global Positive and Negative Valence
Specific Startle Responses: Initial and Secondary Startle Responses
Statistical Analyses
Demographic, Psychometric, and Control Variables
Psychophysiological Responding
Facial Behaviour
Global positive and negative valence.
Specific startle responses: Initial and secondary startle responses.
Shock Anticipation and Aversiveness
Correlational Analyses

Correspondence to
Jens Blechert, Hellbrunnerstrasse 34, 5020 Salzburg.

posttraumatic stress disorder, facial expression coding, psychophysiology, emotion, startle, embarrassment, video assessment

Received 9 Jul 2012; Revised 10 Apr 2013; Accepted 17 May 2013; In Press 16 Oct 2013

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