This chapter critically reviews research which uses physiological and behavioral measures as covert, real-time measures of motivated cognitive processing. It is written from the common perspective in psychophysiological research that the mind is an embodied organ and therefore is sustained by the body. As a result, things which occur in the mind can be “seen” in the body. Thinking, feeling, and being are all dependent on the continuous electrical, chemical, and biological functioning of the brain. As the amount of thinking and feeling varies, so do the metabolic demands of the brain. As those metabolic demands vary, so does the autonomic functioning of the body. Careful measurement of bodily responses in controlled contexts can yield fine-grained information about thinking and feeling. Recent research has applied these measures to the problem of understanding media psychology. This chapter will discuss how variations in media structure and content influence motivational activation, which in turn influences emotional responses and cognition, and how psycho-physiological and behavioral measures can be used to track the real-time processing of mediated messages.
This chapter takes the perspective that the embodied mind meets mediated messages in specific local environments embedded in culturally imbued social systems. The perspective is one ...