In the present study, we examined the stability
of one measure of emotion, the emotion-modulated acoustic
startle response, in an undergraduate sample. Using the
acoustic startle paradigm on two different occasions, we
measured stability of affective modulation of the startle
response during and following the presentation of pictures
selected to be of positive, negative, or neutral emotional
valence. The two assessments were separated by 4 weeks.
Two groups of subjects were compared: one group that viewed
the same pictures at each assessment and a second group
that viewed different pictures at the second assessment.
We found that viewing different pictures at two assessments
separated by 4 weeks yielded moderate stability of the
emotion modulation of startle magnitude, whereas subjects
who viewed the same pictures at both assessments showed
poor stability. Furthermore, this difference was due to
the stability of responses to high versus low arousal pictures,
not to differences in valence.