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This study utilizes HRV analysis to examine a new method of intentionally shifting emotional states, and demonstrates that positive emotions lead to alterations in sympathovagal balance that may be beneficial in the treatment of hypertension. Anger, on the other hand, was shown to significantly increase sympathetic activation.
Salivary IgA, heart rate and mood were measured in thirty individuals before and after experiencing care or anger. Two methods of inducing the emotional states were compared: self-induction and external induction via video tapes. Anger produced a significant increase in total mood disturbance and heart rate, but not in S-IgA levels. Positive emotions, on the other hand, produced a significant increase in S-IgA levels. Examining the effects over a six hour period we observed that anger, in contrast to care, produced a significant inhibition of S-IgA from one to five hours after the emotional experience. Results indicate that self-induction of positive emotional states is more effective at stimulating S-IgA levels than previously used external methods. Self-induction techniques may therefore be useful in minimizing the immunosuppressive effects of negative emotions.