Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. in Biological Science



First Advisor

Lainy B. Day

Second Advisor

Gail Stratton

Third Advisor

Dwight E. Waddell

Relational Format



The philosophies behind many martial arts often claim that by practicing martial arts individuals can gain better control over stress. We tested this idea by using controlled physical stressors to elicit an acute stress response from martial artists (n=15) and non-martial artists (n=18). To measure the extent of the stress response, we looked at changes in heart rate, respiratory sinus arrhythmia, and galvanic skin level. These three measures explore both parasympathetic and sympathetic responses, and changes in these variables continue to be explored in studies of stress and reactive aggression. In addition to our physical stressors we also exposed individuals to affective imagery from the International Affective Picture System (IAPS). Individual levels of aggression were also assessed using the Buss and Perry aggression questionnaire. Martial artists elicited a stable galvanic skin level while being tapped upon the forehead, and there was a trend that indicated the martial artists were less aggressive.

Included in

Neurosciences Commons



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