Emotions predictably modify response times in the initiation of human motor actions: A meta-analytic review

Garrett F. Beatty, Nicole M. Cranley, Giselle Carnaby, Christopher M. Janelle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Emotions motivate individuals to attain appetitive goals and avoid aversive consequences. Empirical investigations have detailed how broad approach and avoidance orientations are reflected in fundamental movement attributes such as the speed, accuracy, and variability of motor actions. Several theoretical perspectives propose explanations for how emotional states influence the speed with which goal directed movements are initiated. These perspectives include biological predisposition, muscle activation, distance regulation, cognitive evaluation, and evaluative response coding accounts. A comprehensive review of literature and meta-analysis were undertaken to quantify empirical support for these theoretical perspectives. The systematic review yielded 34 studies that contained 53 independent experiments producing 128 effect sizes used to evaluate the predictions of existing theories. The central tenets of the biological predisposition (Hedges' g= -0.356), distance regulation (g= -0.293; g = 0.243), and cognitive evaluation (g= -0.249; g = -0.405; g = -0.174) accounts were supported. Partial support was also identified for the evaluative response coding (g = -0.255) framework. Our findings provide quantitative evidence that substantiate existing theoretical perspectives, and provide potential direction for conceptual integration of these independent perspectives. Recommendations for future empirical work in this area are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)237-251
Number of pages15
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Affect
  • Approach and avoidance
  • Biological predispositions
  • Cognitive evaluations
  • Reaction time

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Emotions predictably modify response times in the initiation of human motor actions: A meta-analytic review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this