GO-LAB Gedragsfysiologisch Onderzoekslaboratorium

Current Research Projects GO-LAB

An overview of the current research project of GO-LAB.

Face of Stress study

The stress response to demanding or threatening challenges is complex and has three general components: perceived subjective experience, behavioral and non-verbal reactions and physiological responses. The perceived stress response has several emotional correlates, such as anger and anxiety. Individuals differ considerably in the extent to which they experience events as stressful, and the correlations between emotional and physiological stress responses are generally low.  Even, the predictive value for physiological stress responses may be larger for facial expressions. These individual differences in stress reactivity profiles are poorly understood and require novel research methodologies. Innovative methodological approaches to stress measurement may shed new light on the experiences of stress as related to the physiological and neuroendocrine stress responses. While physiological stress responses are continuously assessed, and peak values usually are found within the first few minutes of a challenging stress task, the emotional response to a stressor usually is assessed by subjective self-report after the task has been completed.

Assessing facial expression during a stress-inducing task may provide an objective indicator of individual differences in the emotional experience of a stressor, and potentially a better predictor of the physiological stress response. Studies have also suggested that there may be differences in the physiological response profile, related to the different dynamics of endocrine and cardiovascular response systems, and depending on the task presented (i.e., social evaluative vs. cognitive or physical challenge tasks). In the current project we therefore aim to compare the emotional facial expression responses during a stress-inducing challenge task with the subjective emotional experience assessed immediate post-stress. Second, we examine the potentially differential predictive value of both emotional responses (facial and subjective) for the cardiovascular and neuroendocrine response to stress.


Stress is bad for your health, especially chronic stress. In PSYCHE we examine how physiological and emotional stress response profiles of patients with heart disease compare to those of healthy peers. McEwen’s theory of allostatic load poses that there are four ways repeated stress may contribute to allostatic load and eventually exhaustion, disease and death. With PSYCHE, we want to find out whether individual differences such as social inhibition and stress resilience predict adaptation to repeated stressors. Part of this study is executed in the Elisabeth-TweeSteden Hospital (cardiac patients).

it’s not stress that kills us, it’s our reaction to it

- Hans Selye

Practice of Psychology Research

In their second year, bachelor students Psychology take a research course “Practice of Psychology Research”. Each year several groups of students perform a psychophysiological experiment under supervision of one of the GO-LAB staff members.

Emotional crying and pain tolerance

If crying brings relief, which mechanisms are involved? Gracanin, Bylsma and Vingerhoets (2014) postulated the possible involvement of endogenous opioid levels and/ or oxytocin.

Given the impossibility to assess the central levels of these substances, a good alternative might be to evaluate the behavioral effects of these substances, more precisely pain tolerance. The aim of this study is to investigate whether crying might increase one’s tolerance to painful stimuli. After having induced crying in volunteers by exposing them to a sad movie, the participants are instructed to immerse their hands in ice water (so called cold-pressor test).

The dependent variable is how long they can endure this exposure and their self-reported pain levels. We additionally measure cardiovascular parameters that might mediate the relation between crying and response to painful stimulus.