NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ1072537
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Aug
Pages: 8
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0002-7685
The Experimental Detection of an Emotional Response to the Idea of Evolution
Bland, Mark W.; Morrison, Elizabeth
American Biology Teacher, v77 n6 p413-420 Aug 2015
Evolution is widely regarded as biology's unifying theme, yet rates of rejection of evolutionary science remain high. Anecdotal evidence suggests that cognitive dissonance leading to an emotional response is a barrier to learning about and accepting evolution. We explored the hypothesis that students whose worldviews may be inconsistent with the acceptance of evolution generate detectable emotional responses in the form of physiological changes when exposed to evolutionary themes. Physiological data (respiratory rate, galvanic skin response, and heart rate) were collected from participants while they were asked "yes/no" questions, some of which referenced evolution. Questions were of three categories: relevant, irrelevant, and control. Authenticity of response rates to relevant questions such as "Do you believe in evolution?" were verified using visual inspection to compare degree of response rates with control questions, such as "Have you ever cheated on a test?" Our results support our hypothesis. Of the 33 participants included in our study, a majority of them produced detectable physiological changes indicating emotional responses when asked questions referencing evolution. The highest response rate (79%) was generated by the question "Do you believe in evolution?" The implications of an emotional response in students when presented with instruction in evolutionary theory are discussed.
University of California Press. 2000 Center Street Suite 303, Berkeley, CA 94704. Tel: 510-643-7154; Fax: 510-642-9917; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Arkansas
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A