Full Text

Excitation and Arousal

Gary Bente and Felix Eschenburg

Subject Psychology
Communication Studies » Communication Reception and Effects

Key-Topics emotion

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


Common sense holds that exposure to media content can be associated with different levels of excitement and arousal (→  Exposure to Communication Content ). The specific case of a thrilling movie well describes the type of stimuli that come to our mind when using the terms arousal and excitation in everyday language. From a psychological point of view, arousal is conceptualized in more general terms, as a state of alertness and physical excitation elicited by external or internal stimuli, which challenge an adaptive response of the organism. The modern world is complex and rich in stimuli. It is in many respects different from the environment of our early ancestors, which required the organism to be physically prepared for immediate action, e.g., when possible threats entered the field of perception. Although vigorous actions like “fight” or “flight” might be dysfunctional or inappropriate in the daily life of civilized humans, evolution has preserved those basic physiological alarm mechanisms, leaving the organism with a new type of adaptive task: to cope with arousal and excitation without launching atavistic behavioral programs (→  Communibiology ). The narrow view of arousal as suggested by the fight–flight theory ( Cannon 1914 ) only describes an extreme form of bodily excitation, nowadays subsumed under the term “acute stress response.” Arousal has, however, been recognized ... log in or subscribe to read full text

Log In

You are not currently logged-in to Blackwell Reference Online

If your institution has a subscription, you can log in here:


     Forgotten your password?

Find out how to subscribe.

Your library does not have access to this title. Please contact your librarian to arrange access.

[ access key 0 : accessibility information including access key list ] [ access key 1 : home page ] [ access key 2 : skip navigation ] [ access key 6 : help ] [ access key 9 : contact us ] [ access key 0 : accessibility statement ]

Blackwell Publishing Home Page

Blackwell Reference Online ® is a Blackwell Publishing Inc. registered trademark
Technology partner: Semantico Ltd.

Blackwell Publishing and its licensors hold the copyright in all material held in Blackwell Reference Online. No material may be resold or published elsewhere without Blackwell Publishing's written consent, save as authorised by a licence with Blackwell Publishing or to the extent required by the applicable law.

Back to Top