What is GSR?

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What is GSR?
The polygraph or simply called lie detector is commonly used in police investigation especially in the United States such as FBI, CIA, and other federal and state governments including private entities for at least 60 years. The lie detector uses the galvanic skin response to determine if the subject is lying or not.

When the subject is lying, his heart rate increases so with his blood pressure; breathing changes and so with sweating and perspiration increases. As such, it is a great help in police investigation and identification of criminals.

According to Peter Shepherd, GSR instrument the psycho-galvanometer was the earliest to be used for psychological research and psychotherapy. Galvanic Skin response is also known as Electrodermal Response (EDR) or simply called skin conductance response and skin conductance level.

It is a situation where in the skin becomes a good transmitter of electricity when given a certain stimuli that physiologically stimulates emotions, stress, and mental states. A good example of skin conductance is when the hands are cold because of nervousness, the skin becomes high conductance of electricity and when the hands are warm, the skin has low conductance.

Another clear example is that when a person is experiencing a certain emotion like fear, the sweat glands secrete more fluid that makes electric current to flow easily. As such, GSR results are commonly used for relaxation training.


Studies on GSR began as early as 1900 with Carl Gustave Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist and founder of analytical psychology discussed the use of GSR instruments in his study of psychoanalysis. Another scientist like Wiliam Reich, an Austrian-American studied GSR in his experiments and proved that there is so-called bioelectrical charge. Studies on GSR were popular until the 70’s. Until 2010, GSR instruments are still being used because they are less expensive.

How it works. Basically, galvanic skin response measures the transmission or conductance of electricity in the fingers and palms. GSR is very sensitive to different emotions and more seating or perspiration can be traced to the subject’s emotional state such as fear, anger, sexual feelings may result to different GSR responses. According to an article written by GSR was also used to determine the effects of meditation and music to the subjects. It is a basic knowledge that music could induce relaxation and reduce stress on a listener. As such, GSR responses could objectively measure the mental state of the listener or the subject when exposed to music as intervention.

Portable GSR instruments and Devices. There are various types of GSR instruments like Biofeedback to measure emotional states and stress that are handy to use. There are sold and available on the internet such as Stress thermometer SC911 that measures stress and monitors finger temperature. It is a good device for stress management. DAVID DELIGHT has been made based on research that includes mental agility and balance among seniors, improvement of memory among college students, reduction of stress and having better mood. There is also biofeedback therapy kit like healing rhythms that is good for reducing stress and for relaxation through the use of music.

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