H38 Effect of Social Support on Stress Response

social support

Acknowledgements to Dr. David Sherman, UCSB

This BSL PRO Lesson examines the impact of social support on stress. Students will use the BSL System to record and measure electrodermal activity (EDA) and an electrocardiogram (ECG) to calculate heart rate (HR) as physiological correlates to stress. Lesson background explains physiological concepts to help students understand how the autonomic nervous system regulates heart rate and electrodermal activity.

The goal of this lab is to examine the impact of social support on stress. Previous research shows that a photo of a supportive other can reduce pain during a stressful, pain-inducing task (Master, Eisenberger, Taylor, Naliboff, Shirinyan, & Lieberman, 2009). Instead of induced pain, we will examine if social support could reduce physiological responses to a stressful task.

Compatible with Biopac Student Lab System running BSL 4.0.1 or greater with MP36, MP35, MP46, or MP45 unit.

Experimental Objectives

  1. Measure skin conductance responses and changes in HR during baseline, control, and social support conditions.
  2. Assess autonomic function during stress using HR, and assess sympathetic function using EDA.
  3. Learn techniques for recording and analyzing EDA and HR.
  4. Experiment with other ways to elicit or repress affective responses for an excellent active learning exercise.

Tasks Performed by the Student

  • Baseline: Count backwards from 100.
  • Control condition: Count backwards from 1,000 by subtracting 13s.
  • Support condition: Count backwards from 1,050 by subtracting 17s with photo of socially supportive other in view.

Optional conditions can be added to the recording.


Social Support & Psychophysiology Laboratory Training | UCSB Sherman Lab

EL-CHECK Electrode Impedance Checker

Student Prep & Distance Learning

Click the link(s) below for sample data and/or lesson procedure video(s), BSL PRO Lesson procedures (PDF) for human lessons*, and graph template files (*.gtl) for BSL PRO Lessons. If more than one .gtl is available, download the .gtl with the _suffix to match BSL version and hardware.

Lesson Hardware

Compatible with BSL MP36, MP35, MP46 or MP45 running BSL 4.0.1 or greater.
EL-CHECK recommended for 2-channel MP46 or MP45 units; not needed for 4-channel MP36 or MP35 units, which have an 'Electrode Check' port.
Participant must provide a photo of a socially supportive other (e.g., friend, family, pet); photo may be accessed from a mobile device or computer.

Item Name Cart
SS2LB Lead set, shielded, BSL Add to Cart
SS3LA EDA Finger Transducer, BSL Add to Cart
Select Option General-purpose Electrodes Add to Cart
Select Option EDA Electrodes Add to Cart
Select Option Electrode Gels Add to Cart
GEL101A Electrode Gel, Isotonic, 114 g Add to Cart
ELPAD Abrasive Pads 10/pk Add to Cart
EL-CHECK Electrode Impedance Checker Add to Cart


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