Using physiological methods to study emotions in organizations

Suzanne Peterson, Christopher S. Reina, David Waldman, William J. Becker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The application of physiological methods to the study of psychological phenomena has garnered considerable interest in recent years. These methods have proved especially useful to the study of emotions, since evidence suggests that validly measuring a person's emotional state using traditional, psychometric methods such as surveys or observation is considerably more difficult than once thought. The present chapter reviews the challenges associated with measuring emotions from a purely psychological perspective, and suggests that the study of emotions in organizations can benefit from the use of physiological measurement to complement traditional assessment methods. We review more established approaches to physiological measurement, including those related to hormone secretion, cardiovascular activity, and skin conductance. We then highlight somewhat more recent attempts to use neurological scanning. A theme of this chapter is that both psychological and physiological measures are relevant to understanding and assessing emotions in organizations. Accordingly, we propose a multi-method approach involving both types of assessment. Finally, we discuss the practical and ethical implications of employing various forms of physiological measurement in the study of emotions, specifically in the context of organizations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-27
Number of pages25
JournalResearch on Emotion in Organizations
StatePublished - 2015


  • Emotions
  • Measurement
  • Neuroscience
  • Physiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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