We investigated whether stimuli consisting of beautiful and ugly colours as judged by human subjects elicit different autonomic response patterns. The autonomic functions recorded were heart rate (HR) respiration rate, skin conductance, number of GSRs (nGSR) and also eye movements, as an index of somatic activity. In order to obtain strong responses, i.e. to avoid inhibition of ‘natural’ responses by anxiety due to the laboratory setting, we made use of post-hypnotic suggestions regarding the nature of the stimuli the subjects were to expect. It appeared that for all but one autonomic function differences could be found between beautiful and ugly stimuli, in the sense that during the ugly stimuli more ‘activation’ occurred. The direction of HR change during the beautiful stimuli was opposite to those of the other functions. Effect of hypnosis on autonomic response could be substantiated for HR and nGSR. Apart from hypnosis it seems likely that the whole experimental set-up may have helped to reduce ‘experimental anxiety’. One may conclude that response specificity for pleasant and unpleasant stimuli seems to exist.

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