Men Versus Women: Who is More Afraid?

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Updated on Oct 30, 2011

Grade Level: 6th to 8th; Type: Social Science

This experiment will evaluate how certain biological processes respond to fear and will investigate whether gender affects these physiologic responses.

  • How does fear affect heart rate?
  • How does fear affect blood pressure?
  • Do the observed reactions differ between male and female test subjects?

Does fear cause the same physiologic responses in men and women? This experiment will evaluate this question by observing test subjects’ blood pressure and heart rate while they watch a scary movie.

  • Blood pressure monitor
  • Heart rate monitor
  • Test subjects (approximately 10 males and 10 females)
  • Scary movie
  • Notebook for recording results

  1. Sit your test subject in a semi-dark room and hook him or her up to both the blood pressure monitor and the heart rate monitor.
  2. Play a 20-30 minute portion of a horror film. Select the part of the film that is the most intense.
  3. Monitor and record heart rate and blood pressure every 5 minutes. Make a note of whether the action in the movie is calm or intense when each measurement is taken.
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 for many different male and female test subjects.
  5. Analyze your results. Do you observe heart rate and/or blood pressure changes in your test subjects? How much of an effect does the movie have on these physiologic responses? Are heart rate and blood pressure more affected in men or women?

Terms/Concepts: blood pressure, heart rate, how does fear affect the body?

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