Publications and Research

Document Type


Publication Date

April 2014


We present a series of experiments that explore the boundary conditions for how emotional arousal influences height estimates. Four experiments are presented, which investigated the influence of context, situation-relevance, intensity, and attribution of arousal on height estimates. In Experiment 1, we manipulated the environmental context to signal either danger (viewing a height from above) or safety (viewing a height from below). High arousal only increased height estimates made from above. In Experiment 2, two arousal inductions were used that contained either 1) height-relevant arousing images or 2) height-irrelevant arousing images. Regardless of theme, arousal increased height estimates compared to a neutral group. In Experiment 3, arousal intensity was manipulated by inserting an intermediate or long delay between the induction and height estimates. A brief, but not a long, delay from the arousal induction served to increase height estimates. In Experiment 4, an attribution manipulation was included, and those participants who were made aware of the source of their arousal reduced their height estimates compared to participants who received no attribution instructions. Thus, arousal that is attributed to its true source is discounted from feelings elicited by the height, thereby reducing height estimates. Overall, we suggest that misattributed, embodied arousal is used as a cue when estimating heights from above that can lead to overestimation.


This work was originally published in PLoS ONE, available at doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0092024.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.