Constructing Emotion The Experience of Fear as a Conceptual Act

Department of Psychology, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467, USA.
Psychological Science (Impact Factor: 4.43). 10/2008; 19(9):898-903. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2008.02174.x
Source: PubMed


This study examined the hypothesis that emotion is a psychological event constructed from the more basic elements of core affect and conceptual knowledge. Participants were primed with conceptual knowledge of fear, conceptual knowledge of anger, or a neutral prime and then proceeded through an affect-induction procedure designed to induce unpleasant, high-arousal affect or a neutral affective state. As predicted, only those individuals for whom conceptual knowledge of fear had been primed experienced unpleasant core affect as evidence that the world was threatening. This study provides the first experimental support for the hypothesis that people experience world-focused emotion when they conceptualize their core affective state using accessible knowledge about emotion.

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    • "For instance , under Feldman Barret et al . ' s Conceptual Act Theory ( Barrett , 2006 ; Lindquist & Barrett , 2008 ) , a typical emotion experience starts with the agent experi - encing a stimulus . The agent collects information about the context as well as visceral signals of valence ( e . "
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    • "In some studies, participants imagine hypothetical or real situations while listening to music to elicit the desired affective state. MCI has successfully induced affect to study memory (e.g., Eich et al., 1994) and the psychological construction of emotion (Lindquist and Barrett, 2008). In another variation, participants recall and relive memories of affectively significant past events to generate a change in their affective state (Goodwin and Williams, 1982). "
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