The influence of unpleasant emotional arousal on military performance: An experimental study using auditory stimuli during a shooting task
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EmotionsCortisolPsychophysiologyThermal imagingVirtual realityMarksmanshipSoldiers
Leandro L. Di Stasi... [et al.]. The influence of unpleasant emotional arousal on military performance: An experimental study using auditory stimuli during a shooting task, International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, Volume 89, 2022, 103295, ISSN 0169-8141, [https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ergon.2022.103295]
SponsorshipSantander Bank - CEMIX UGR-MADOC grant PINS 2018-15 PIN 5/2/20 F2F; German Research Foundation (DFG) RYC-2015-17483
Due to the intrinsic difficulties associated with simulating extreme events, it remains unclear how unpleasant emotional arousal might affect shooting performance among well-trained high-risk operators. To address this issue, an infantry rifle squad performed two simulated shooting exercises of different complexity (low vs. high) while exposed to unpleasant emotionally charged sound clips. A control group underwent the same experimental procedure without the presence of any sound clips. To externally validate our method of emotional arousal inoculation, we collected infantrymen’s salivary cortisol and perceived arousal and valence levels over the experimental phases (i.e., baseline, shooting, and recovery). The dependent variables were their shooting performance (shot-to-hit ratio and instructor’s evaluation) and the perceived degree of task complexity. Furthermore, we explored the variations of participants’ nasal skin temperature during the shooting exercises. Salivary cortisol concentrations varied over time only for the squad exposed to emotionally charged stimuli. While emotional arousal had an effect on overall infantrymen performance (e.g., precision of movements while shooting), shooting accuracy was not affected. Emotional arousal did not influence nasal skin temperature. Overall, our results suggest that arousal inoculation based on emotionally charged sound clips could serve as a complementary (reliable and ethically appropriate) method to train high-risk operators to deal with emotional arousal. These findings may also contribute to a better understanding of the role of emotional arousal in operational effectiveness.