What is GSR in Psychology

Recording of electrodermal activity for 60 seconds

The electrodermal activity (outdated: (psycho) galvanic skin reaction; English Galvanic skin response, GSR, Skin Conductance Response, SCR, or Electrodermal response, EDR) is a short-term decrease in the electrical conduction resistance of the skin, caused by the typical increase in sympathetic tone in emotional-affective reactions. This leads to increased sweat secretion, corresponding to an increase in skin conductivity.[1][2]

With the help of measurements of the electrodermal activity, psychophysiological relationships can be objectified, since every physiological excitation, as it is associated with emotions or stress, changes the skin conductivity.

The unit of measurement for skin conductivity is Siemens in the international system of units.

Application examples

People's self-reporting is notoriously false or skewed for a number of reasons. Often they are not aware of their attitudes, affects and emotions (for example in the case of subliminal stimuli), or do not want to admit them (because they contradict their ideal self), or want to present themselves in a good light (see social desirability). Measuring skin conductivity is currently one of the most accurate methods for objectively measuring human reactions.

  • It can uncover deliberate falsifications of the truth and is part of the so-called lie detector and - apparently - the Bogus pipeline, a device that the test persons believe can detect every false statement, so that it would be pointless to lie.
  • Unconscious falsifications also become obvious, for example many people have prejudices without even knowing it.
  • The effect of pheromones can be shown with it.
  • In the rare Capgras syndrome, patients believe that people close to them have been replaced by doppelgangers. In contact with these people, as with strangers, there is no emotional reaction, which can be objectively determined by the fact that their electrodermal activity does not change.

Individual evidence

  1. ↑ http: //www.wissenschaft-online.de/abo/lexikon/psycho/3965
  2. ↑ http: //www.uni-graz.at/psy5www/team/weinreich/EID_Elektrodermale_Aktivit%E4t_und_Emotionen.pdf

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