The Effect of Emotional Imagery on Emotional Response to Massage

Presenter Information

Celia PetersFollow

Faculty Advisor

Dr. John Pellegrini



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The Effect of Emotional Imagery on Emotional Response to Massage

The objective of this study is to determine the influence of emotional imagery on one’s response to massage. Emotional responses involve activity from the somatic nervous system, as well as activity in the parasympathetic and sympathetic branches of the autonomic nervous system. The purpose of a massage is to increase parasympathetic activity while simultaneously decreasing sympathetic nervous activity; this provides the subject with an increased relaxation response and decreased stress response. Subjects in this study received a massage from a handheld massage device for approximately 4-6 minutes. Data collection involved personal reports of mood in addition to motor activity in facial muscles of expression. Muscle activity was recorded using electromyography, and mood was reported on a visual analog scale. It is hypothesized that subjects will mimic the emotion seen in the image, and will also report a mood reflecting that emotion before, during and after the massage. Findings of this study could help imply whether or not emotion conveyed by a photo or piece of artwork present in a medical office would influence a patient’s emotional response to treatment.