Self-report, i.e., explicit, measures of affect cannot fully explain the cardiovascular (CV) responses to stressors. Measuring affect beyond self-report, i.e., using implicit measures, could add to our understanding of stress-related CV activity. The Implicit Positive and Negative Affect Test (IPANAT) was administered in two studies to test its ecological validity and relation with CV responses and self-report measures of affect. In Study 1 students (N = 34) viewed four film clips inducing anger, happiness, fear, or no emotion, and completed the IPANAT and the Positive And Negative Affect Scale at baseline and after each clip. Implicit negative affect (INA) was higher and implicit positive affect (IPA) was lower after the anger inducing clip and vice versa after the happiness inducing clip. In Study 2 students performed a stressful math task with (n = 14) or without anger harassment (n = 15) and completed the IPANAT and a Visual Analog Scale as an explicit measure afterwards. Systolic (SBP), diastolic (DBP) blood pressure, heart rate (HR), heart rate variability (HRV), and total peripheral resistance (TPR) were recorded throughout. SBP and DBP were higher and TPR was lower in the harassment condition during the task with a prolonged effect on SBP and DBP during recovery. As expected, explicit negative affect (ENA) was higher and explicit positive affect (EPA) lower after harassment, but ENA and EPA were not related to CV activity. Although neither INA nor IPA differed between the tasks, during both tasks higher INA was related to higher SBP, lower HRV and lower TPR and to slower recovery of DBP after both tasks. Low IPA was related to slower recovery of SBP and DBP after the tasks. Implicit affect was not related to recovery of HR, HRV, and TPR. In conclusion, the IPANAT seems to respond to film clip-induced negative and positive affect and was related to CV activity during and after stressful tasks. These findings support the theory that implicitly measured affect can add to the explanation of prolonged stress-related CV responses that influence CV health.
van der Ploeg, M. M., Brosschot, J. F., Thayer, J. F., & Verkuil, B. (2016). The implicit positive and negative affect test: Validity and relationship with cardiovascular stress-responses. Frontiers in Psychology, 7(MAR). https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00425