Psychology, Department of


Document Type


Date of this Version

January 1987


Published in Motivation and Emotion, Vol. 11, No.3, (1987). Copyright © 1987 Plenum Publishing Corporation, Division of Springer Verlag. Used by permission.


Thermal regulation and peripheral arousal in episodes of emotion are dependent upon similar autonomic and hormonal processes. Thermal-tolerance measure were developed and validated in order to indirectly assess adrenergic (cold tolerance) and cholinergic (heat tolerance) responsivity. We hypothesized that cold tolerance would correlate with reduced emotionality (largely fear and anxiety) and depression, and with increased stimulus seeking and dispositions toward activity; those hypotheses were confirmed. Tentatively advanced hypotheses that heat tolerance would correlate with reduced depression and emotional states were not confirmed, but heat tolerance was positively associated with activity and (weakly) with some of the same dimensions of temperament that correlated with cold tolerance. Concepts of synergistic rather than oppositional relationships of adrenergic and cholinergic systems are discussed. The roles of autonomic strength and responsitivity in positive temperament dispositions and in coping with stress and challenge are discussed, and a theoretical system is sketched that is derived from these and related findings.