International Symposium on Affective Science and Engineering
Online ISSN : 2433-5428
Session ID : PM-1B-3
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Affective Design & Measurement
Emotional Contagion and Mirror System Activity in the Highly Sensitive Person
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In Japan, there has been a recent increase in the incidence of mental illness. Designation as a “highly sensitive person (HSP)”. HSP is not a diagnosis of mental illness, but refers to individual temperament. However, this cluster of traits shares characteristics with both attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. The central feature of the HSP is a high level of empathy. Evaluation of one’s HSP status is by self-report on a psychological questionnaire but scores on such measures can be inaccurate due to their dependence on the self-awareness of the test-taker. Therefore, in this study, empathy was evaluated through the measurement of emotional contagion and mirror system activity using an electroencephalograph. The results were compared to participants’ scores on the Highly Sensitive Person Scale (HSPS). We found that participants with an HSPS score of 100 or higher showed event-related desynchronization (ERD) of 50% or higher, indicative of mirror system activity. In addition, participants with an HSPS score of 100 or higher exhibited lower alpha wave band power values when presented with an image of a happy face. Since alpha waves are associated with relaxed states of non-arousal, it can be inferred that the happy face induced happy feelings, increasing arousal, and reducing alpha rhythms. Thus, it was found that the higher the HSPS score, the greater the level of mirror system activity and emotional contagion.

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