ArticlePDF Available

Abstract and Figures

How can the hedonistic assumption (i.e., people's willingness to pursue pleasure and avoid pain) be reconciled with people choosing to expose themselves to experiences known to elicit negative feelings? We assess how (1) the intensity of the negative feelings, (2) positive feelings in the aftermath, and (3) the coactivation of positive and negative feelings contribute to our understanding of such behavior. In a series of four studies, consumers with either approach or avoidance tendencies (toward horror movies) were asked to report their positive and/or negative feelings either after (experiment 1) or while (experiments 2, 3A, and 3B) they were exposed to a horror movie. We demonstrate how a model incorporating coactivation principles and enriched with a protective frame moderator (via detachment) can provide a more parsimonious and viable description of the affective reactions that result from counterhedonic behavior. (c) 2007 by JOURNAL OF CONSUMER RESEARCH, Inc..
Content may be subject to copyright.
Electronic copy available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=892028
1
On the Consumption of Negative Feelings
EDUARDO B. ANDRADE
JOEL B. COHEN*
Journal of Consumer Research, October 2007
Electronic copy available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=892028
2
*Eduardo B. Andrade is assistant professor of marketing, Haas School of Business, University of
California, Berkeley, CA 94720-1900 (eandrade@haas.berkeley.edu). Joel B. Cohen is
Distinguished Service Professor of Marketing and Anthropology at the University of Florida,
P.O. Box 177155, Gainesville, FL, 32611-7155 (joel.cohen@cba.ufl.edu). Correspondence:
Eduardo B. Andrade. This project was sponsored by the Junior Faculty Research Grant and the
Experimental Social Science Laboratory (Xlab) at the University of California, Berkeley. The
article benefited from helpful comments and insights from the editor, associate editor, three
reviewers, and from participants in seminars at Stanford University, New York University,
Columbia University, University of Chicago, and the Emotion and Decision Making Reunion at
the University of California, Berkeley. The authors thank James Chong, Cindy Wang, Simon
Mak, Lawrence Sweet, Debbie Atlas, and Brenda Naputi for their assistance with data collection.
3
ABSTRACT
How can the hedonistic assumption (i.e., people’s willingness to pursue pleasure and
avoid pain) be reconciled with people choosing to expose themselves to experiences known to
elicit negative feelings? We assess how (1) the intensity of the negative feelings, (2) positive
feelings in the aftermath, and (3) the coactivation of positive and negative feelings contribute to
our understanding of such behavior. In a series of 4 studies, consumers with either approach or
avoidance tendencies (toward horror movies) were asked to report their positive and/or negative
feelings either after (experiment 1) or while (experiments 2, 3A, and 3B) they were exposed to a
horror movie. We demonstrate how a model incorporating coactivation principles and enriched
with a protective frame moderator (via detachment) can provide a more parsimonious and viable
description of the affective reactions that result from counter-hedonic behavior.
4
Readers who are unfamiliar with the vastly popular (in some circles!) horror movie genre
might have missed the following scene. Two men wake up in a filthy bathroom chained to
massive steel pipes at opposite ends of the room. The blood between them is from a man’s
corpse still holding the gun he used to kill himself. The two men discover two hacksaws. The
tools are too dull to cut the massive chains that keep them imprisoned but seem sharp enough to
hack off their limbs and set them free. Jigsaw, the wildly popular killer, graphically tantalizes his
prey. One victim must crawl through razor wire to escape. Another must find a key to overturn a
bear-trap attached to his mouth. Suggestively titled “Saw,” the movie generated $18 million in
box office receipts in its opening weekend on Oct 2004, hitting 3rd place in US box office ratings
(behind only “Ray” and “The Grudge,” another horror movie). Saw II was released one year
later.
These and a number of other box office hits attract audiences by immersing them in
nearly two hours of fear, disgust, terror, and depravity. For that reason horror movies provide an
excellent window into counterintuitive consumer preferences for emotional experiences that
produce negative emotional responses. Theories that have attempted to explain such behavior
rely on the assumption that people cannot experience positive and negative emotions at the same
time and build either on the premise that some level of arousal is experienced positively or that
people are willing to endure negative affect in order to experience a positive aftermath. In this
article, we provide evidence to support the coactivation of oppositely-valenced emotions in order
to better address the question of when and how pleasantness is experienced when people choose
apparently aversive consumption activities.
Although our empirical context is limited to horror movies, from a theoretical standpoint
the factors we investigate should be important to experiences that (either personally or
5
vicariously) encompass the fearfulness and terror of lives at risk (e.g., extreme sports) and the
repulsion and disgust of degradation and perversion (e.g., magazines and games depicting cruelty
and pain). This issue will be further addressed in the discussion section. We start at the other end
of the spectrum and with the conventional assumptions of hedonism.
HEDONISM AND NEGATIVE AFFECT
A veritable mountain of evidence documents the opposing reflexive and automatic
responses of simpler living organisms to appetitive (approach) and aversive (avoidance) stimuli
as well as our tendency to respond favorably (unfavorably) to experienced and anticipated
affectively positive (negative) states. Indeed, hedonism’s prime directive—that is, people’s
tendency to pursue pleasure and avoid pain—is one of the most well grounded assumptions in
psychology and consumer behavior. Affect-related theories in a variety of domains have relied
on some variant of the hedonistic assumption to develop their models. For example, at the core
of the appraisal literature is the notion that one of attitudes’ main functions is to help individuals
approach what is good and avoid what is bad (Maio and Olson 2000). Affect regulation models
presume that people will spontaneously try to improve their current affective state when feeling
bad and protect it when feeling good (Andrade 2005; Isen and Simmonds 1978; Tice,
Bratslavsky, and Baumeister 2001), as long as stronger competing goals are not available (Cohen
and Andrade 2004; Erber, Wegner, and Therriault 1996). Also, recent developments in
behavioral decision theory have formally incorporated anticipated pleasure as the critical
determinant of choice, showing its stronger predictive power compared to standard utility
constructs (Mellers 2000). Ironically, however, mainstream media, commercial sponsors and the
6
entertainment industry appear to assume that, more than ever, consumers desire to acquire and
consume experiences known to elicit fear, pain, sadness, or disgust. This extends from popular
television programs such as “Fear Factor” to horror movies that display mayhem and cataclysmic
destruction to electronic games featuring exceptional brutality and violence.
Is there a conflict between the basic hedonistic assumption and people’s willingness to
experience negative affect? If not, how can we best explain the latter without discarding the
former? Precisely, when and how is pleasantness experienced as people choose apparently
aversive events? Traditionally, two groups of accounts have been provided. Each will be
introduced briefly here and will be examined in more detail later.
One possibility is simply that there is no such contradiction because people who expose
themselves to stimuli observers perceive to be aversive may not be experiencing any meaningful
level of negative affect and may actually be experiencing pleasant arousal (Zuckerman 1996).
Even for negative affective states, the intensity of arousal has been shown to be individual
specific and susceptible to adaptation. Further, responses to lower intensity arousal vary
considerably, and, because of that, one person’s discomfort can be another’s pleasure. (e.g.,
“When I watch a horror movie I’m not afraid; I enjoy the excitement!”).
A second group of hypotheses proposes that people are focusing on the aftermath
(Berlyne 1960; Solomon and Corbit 1974; Zillmann 1980). Once the aversive stimuli are
removed and some level of arousal remains, subsequent feelings of relief or pleasantness emerge
(e.g., “Bungee jumping is fun, when it is over!”). This is consistent with the joke about the
person who kept banging his head against a wall because he felt so much better when he stopped.
People come to understand that most television programs and movies end with a feeling of relief
rather than lingering negative consequences. Thus, people may be willing to endure the fear and
7
unpleasant experiences in order to enjoy the positive feelings brought on by relief. In fact, it is
conceivable that people who can fully anticipate relief may even prefer heightened levels of
negative arousal.
Explanations for exposure to aversive stimuli originating in these two groups of models
adopt the traditional assumption that individuals can not experience opposite feelings at the same
time. However, there is growing evidence suggesting that mixed feelings or coactivation is not
only possible but quite common (Larsen et al. 2003; Larsen, McGraw, and Cacioppo 2001;
Schimmack, 2001; Watson, Clark, and Tellegen 1988; Williams and Aaker 2002). We argue that
explanations for counter-hedonistic behavior should be consistent with newer evidence that
people can simultaneously experience conflicting emotions, though that is presently not the case.
We intend to show, first, that positive and negative feelings can actually co-occur when people
are exposed to apparent aversive stimuli (e.g., a horror movie). Also, such co-occurrence can
appear in the shape of a positive correlation between feelings of opposite valence (e.g., fear and
happiness) during the exposure to the event (e.g., “It may seem masochist, but the more scared I
feel watching a horror movie, the more I enjoy it!”).
Second, and contrary to the existing intensity model assumption that negative arousal is
experienced instead as pleasurable, we aim to show that those who pursue such apparently
aversive events, can actually experience a similar level and pattern of negative feelings as those
who have deliberately avoided them. This would be an important demonstration that positive
affect does not merely replace negative affect because of interactions with arousal (particularly at
relatively low levels). We do not quarrel with the intensity model findings that there can be
substantial variation (both across people and over time, due to adaptation) in responses to
8
arousal. However, we believe that the assumption of people’s inability to experience positive and
negative affect at the same time is incorrect and should not be used to help explain such findings.
Third, we attempt to demonstrate that two aspects of existing aftermath models are
untenable. If we can establish coactivation of positive and negative emotions during exposure to
aversive stimuli, the assumption that people can only experience positive affect in response to
feelings of relief after the aversive stimulus has been removed would need to be abandoned. We
also expect to find that feelings of relief can be stronger among those who have avoided the
experience in the past compared to those who have frequently chosen to expose themselves to
such stimuli. The opposite should be true under aftermath model assumptions since feelings of
relief (and consequent positive affect) are held to be decisive in leading people to approach
rather than avoid fearful experiences.
Finally, we propose a moderator that may be necessary for co-occurrence to be a stable
state and that is likely to affect repeated pursuit of “aversive pleasures” such as horror movies as
well as truly dangerous activities. To this purpose we adopt the notion of a protective frame
(Apter 1982, 1992) and directly manipulate this perceived frame of mind to show that
individuals can learn how to experience positive feelings while still being absorbed by the
fearfulness of the event. We conclude with a discussion of how to integrate the intensity and
aftermath hypotheses within a coactivation approach.
The evidence described above is provided in a series of 4 experiments where two groups
of participants (those with approach or avoidance tendencies toward horror movies—hereafter
“fear avoiding” [FAV] and “fear approaching” [FAP] participants) are exposed to horror movies
and asked to report their positive and negative feelings, either after (experiment 1), or during
video exposure (experiments 2, 3A, and 3B). An online affect scale (OAS) and an online affect
9
grid (OAG)—adapted from Larsen, Norris, and Cacioppo (2005)—are used to continuously
capture the intensity and pattern of affective states while participants watch the scenes. Finally,
the role of a subjective protective frame of mind as a critical moderating variable is examined.
INTENSITY-BASED MODELS
The intensity of affective reactions is known to vary substantially across individuals, a
phenomenon that has been termed affective style (Davidson 1992, 1998). Such variance can be
attributed to gender (Bradley et al. 2001), personality traits and psychobiological differences
(Zuckerman 1979, 1996), as well as adaptation (Fenz and Epstein 1967). It has been
hypothesized for some time, then, that an apparently aversive experience may not actually trigger
strong negative feelings. Thus, it may not be aversive at all. More generally, Fenz and Epstein’s
(1967) theory of inhibition of fear posits that the levels and pattern of fear response vary as a
function of individuals’ prior experience. In a study on parachute jumping, experts showed not
only lower levels of fear/anxiety than novice jumpers, but they also presented different patterns
of response. Among novice jumpers, response rose monotonically from the morning of the jump
until the moment of the jump, reducing to normal levels after landing. For experienced jumpers
however, the fear response peaked early on the day of the jump but dropped to below normal just
before the jump (but see Roth et al. 1996). Experts were capable of inhibiting fear and enjoying
the experience. However, if experience is required to lower fear, and consequently, to increase
pleasure, why do people expose themselves to such stimuli in the first place (i.e., when they are
all novices)? Zuckerman (1979) moved beyond adaptation and suggested that some individuals
might be intrinsically more “in need of” arousal and/or more insensitive to the apparent
10
aversiveness of the stimuli. Initially, sensation seeking theory proposed that people vary in their
optimal level of stimulation (OLS). When people move to a more optimal level of arousal,
positive affect is experienced, and that should explain why people select arousing experiences,
even if the arousal is caused by negative affective states.
It is easy to overstate this effect, and as the author latter recognized “To say that
sensation seekers seek arousal of any kind is somewhat of an exaggeration. Sensation seekers are
generally hedonists who seek pleasurable arousal. Although they do sometimes take risks that
incur some fear arousal, I do not believe that the fear arousal is the point of most of their
activities. It is their incurable optimism that the risky activity will bring more pleasure than pain
that makes them…quite sensitive to signals of reward and insensitive to signals of punishment”
(Zuckerman 1979, p. 357). In other words, sensation seekers, independent of experience, are
more likely to experience lower levels of negative affect as a result of a threatening environment.
Differential response to affect intensity helps to explain the positive association between the
sensation seeking scale and preference for risky sports and activities, from parachute jumping, to
scuba diving, to car racing, to fire fighting. As Zuckerman summarized “The lack of fearfulness
makes high sensation seekers more adventuresome…” (p. 217). More recently, sensation seeking
has also been suggested to bias media preferences towards highly arousing movie genres, such as
horror, X-rated, and action films (Zuckerman 1996). Nonetheless, evidence that sensation
seekers actually experience lower levels of fear has been inconclusive to this point (e.g., Litle
1986, in Zuckerman 1996)
In summary, intensity models assume that individuals who look for so-called aversive
stimuli are in fact much less, if at all, influenced by its unpleasantness (relative to its arousal
properties), and that this enables them to absorb it in a more positive fashion. By implication,
11
then, a horror movie should not be as fearful, if at all, to fear approach consumers by virtue of
two key moderators: individual differences in sensation seeking and adaptation. These models
would predict that when facing an aversive event, those who enjoy the genre and/or frequently
expose themselves to it (FAP) should experience significantly weaker negative affect (e.g., fear),
if any, along with stronger positive affect (e.g., positive excitement/happiness) during and just
after exposure compared to those (FAV) who prefer to avoid such a stimulus. We will test the
validity of these propositions.
AFTERMATH-BASED MODELS
The aftermath models assert that people endure negative experiences in search of the
relieving and joyful consequences that emerge as soon as the exposure to the unpleasant stimuli
is over. The subsequent pleasure derives from a combination of aversive stimulus removal and
residual arousal. Unpleasantness dissipates, and the remaining arousal state is misattributed—
following Schachter and Singer’s (1962) rationale—to the relieving/pleasurable aftermath
experience. This underlying principle has been incorporated into Solomon and Corbit’s (1974)
two opponent-process theory, Berlyne’s arousal-jag model (1960), and Zillmann’s plot resolution
hypothesis (1980) and used to explain phenomena that vary from parachute jumping to suspense
movie watching. For Solomon and Corbit’s as well as Berlyne’s theories, stimulus removal
suffices for positive affect to be enhanced. Zillmann’s hypothesis highlights the importance of a
happy turn of events in the resolution of the suspense for positive affect to occur. Solomon and
Corbit’s model incorporates adaptation. It suggests that over time frequency of exposure does
reduce negative affect. But, most importantly, it also makes the aftermath even more pleasant
12
and more long-lasting (see also Solomon 1980). As indicated earlier, this assumption
underscores our empirical test of the proposition that: if relief (and consequent positive affect)
are the goal, those who repeatedly seek (rather than avoid) the experience should be those who
find the aftermath most pleasant and thereby obtain the greatest reward from it.
Although the intensity and aftermath models vary in scope, a key premise of both is that
people learn that exposure to such “apparent aversive” events (and this is critical, because they
are held not to be experienced as such in intensity models) is a precursor to positive feelings that
emerge either with the onset of arousal (intensity models) or once the stimuli are removed
and/or, according to Zillmann’s rationale, the end is satisfactory (aftermath models). For both
models, the correlation between fear and happiness is predicted to be either null or negative
during and just after exposure to the aversive stimuli. Finally, the two opponent-process theory
suggests that frequency of exposure reduces negative affect and enhances aftermath feelings of
pleasure. In other words, those who frequently expose themselves to a particular set of aversive
stimuli (vs. those who do not), should be the ones to feel less afraid during stimulus exposure
and to derive more pleasure in the aftermath.
A COACTIVATION-BASED APPROACH
The well established models discussed above assume that positive and negative feelings
can not be experienced at the same time. However, recent findings in consumer behavior (Lau-
Gesk 2005; Williams and Aaker 2002) as well as research in psychology (Larsen et al. 2001;
Schimmack 2001; Watson et al. 1988) have challenged this view. Based on Cacioppo and
Berntson’s (1994) evaluative space model (ESM), Larsen and colleagues asserted that positive
13
and negative affect may well coactivate under specific circumstances. They showed that
participants surveyed in conjunction with affectively ambiguous experiences (i.e., after watching
the movie “Life is Beautiful,” while moving out of their dorms, or during graduation from
college) reported experiencing both happiness and sadness at the same time. Although the
mapping of the emotional brain is still far from complete, neural evidence may also provide
insights into the independence of specific emotional states. The neural correlates of feelings
seem to vary as a function of emotional specificity (Lane et al. 1997; Phan et al. 2002). For
instance, there has been evidence implicating the amygdala as the main neural correlate for fear
(LeDoux 1996) and likely for other negative emotions (Adolphs, Russell, and Tranel, 1999).
Happiness, on the other hand, usually requires pre-frontal cortex participation, among other areas
(Ashby, Isen, and Turken 1999).
Accordingly, we believe that a reevaluation of the two dominant explanations for
people’s willingness to consume “negative” experiences (both of which assume that people can
not experience negative and positive emotions simultaneously) is in order. Coactivation (a basic
emotion concept rather than a competing model intended to answer questions about why or when
people expose themselves to aversive stimuli) should be incorporated to provide a better
understanding of this behavior. For that to be the case, and since (to our knowledge) coactivation
assumptions have not been examined in this domain, we would first need to demonstrate that
coactivation, rather than traditional assumptions, hold here.
Implications
14
Three main and unique implications can be derived from coactivation assumptions. First,
an increase in positive affect does not come at the expense of negative affect. So, contrary to the
intensity model, those who pursue such apparently aversive events could experience as much
negative affect as those who choose to avoid them. Second, since positive affect can be
experienced along with negative affect, the explanatory power of relieving negative affect should
not be as great as an aftermath model proposes. Ironically, assuming coactivation, feelings of
relief should be stronger among those who tend to avoid rather than engage in the experience in
the first place. Third, coactivation permits a positive correlation between feelings of opposite
valence (e.g., fear and happiness). Thus, within a certain range, the most pleasant moments of a
particular event may also be the most fearful. Cacioppo and Berntson’s ESM (1994) also allows
for the possibility of these positive correlations, though direct evidence is still scant in the
literature.
In short, coactivation is now reasonably well supported as a proposition about people’s
ability to simultaneously experience oppositely valenced affective states. However, a
coactivation approach, by itself, cannot explain when consumers would choose to experience
negative affect or consume/expose themselves to seemingly unpleasant, frightening, and even
disgusting forms of entertainment.
The Protective Frame
Apter (1982, 1992) coined the term protective frame to help explain when people would
undertake extreme/dangerous sports. Although he suggests a conversion rather than coactivation
process—that is, individuals’ ability to quickly reappraise anxiety into excitement—, his model
15
asserts that for positive affect to result one must adopt a frame of mind adequate to convince the
person that real danger/threats are not actually present. The author suggests three types of
protective frame: confidence frame (i.e., one feels the danger, but is confident about his/her skills
to deal with it), safety-zone frame (i.e., one places himself/herself sufficiently away from
immediate/likely danger), and detachment frame (i.e., one observes the danger, but does not
interact with it). Direct evidence and/or manipulations of such frames are scant in the literature,
and we will address this gap by directly manipulating the detachment frame. We propose that
coactivation when seemingly aversive events are experienced is particularly likely when people
are embedded in a protective frame and can detach themselves from harm resulting from the
observed experience.
OVERVIEW OF THE EXPERIMENTS AND SPECIFIC HYPOTHESES
Across the experiments we separated participants into those who deliberately choose to
frequently expose themselves to (or to avoid—as a control group) a particular set of stimuli
(horror movies), that are expected to evoke negative (fear-inducing), and possibly, positive
(pleasure-inducing) affective reactions. Four experiments were conducted to address the
affective strength and the affective patterns for these fear approach (FAP) and fear avoidance
(FAV) consumers. We first tested whether both groups display similar or different levels and
patterns of general negative affect (experiment 1) and/or specific feelings of fear (experiments 2,
3A, and 3B). The intensity models as well as the two opponent-process theory (i.e., one of the
aftermath models) predict that negative affect should be significantly lower (or even non
16
existent) for FAP compared to FAV participants. Coactivation suggests that negative feelings
could be as intense and display similar patterns across both groups.
The strength and pattern of positive affect are also critical in evaluating competing
explanations and assumptions. Coactivation is consistent with an increase in pleasantness during
exposure to the horror movie, along with the possibility of a positive correlation between fear
and happiness during video exposure. Aftermath models, however, predict pleasure to be derived
only after the aversive scenes of the horror movie are removed, and that FAPs are more likely to
experience it than FAVs at that point in time. Moreover, intensity and aftermath models suggest
a negative or null correlation between the two states during and after video exposure.
Finally, we suggest that FAVs’ ability to experience positive feelings together with
negative feelings is hypothesized to be constrained by the absence of a detachment frame. So, if
these participants are placed into a protective frame of mind, they should also be able to
experience pleasure from the apparent aversive experience. As a result, we predict that the
positive feelings would be significantly higher among FAVs when they are (vs. not) in a
detachment frame. Also, the correlation between fear-related and happiness-related feelings
could then switch from negative to positive as a result of the detachment frame.
EXPERIMENT 1 (PANAS SCALE – WITHIN-SUBJECTS)
Experiment 1 assessed participants’ affective states immediately before and immediately
after exposure to a horror movie. They were asked to report their feelings with the widely used
PANAS scale (Watson et al. 1988). This scale was developed to capture both positive and
negative feelings associated with some level of arousal. FAPs’ and FAVs’ affective states were
17
contrasted, to compare predictions of the three models. This experiment was meant to test, first,
whether the two groups vary in their levels of negative affect, and, second, if coactivation of
positive and negative affect occurs for FAPs immediately after the horror movie (as opposed to
after negative affect is dissipated).
Method
Participants and Design. Eighty seven students from a western university were paid $10
in exchange for their participation in the experiment. The experiment employed a 2 (affect
measure: positive affect vs. negative affect) by 2 (timing: before vs. after horror movie exposure)
by 2 (chosen exposure to horror movie: FAV vs. FAP) by 2 (stimulus replicate: “The Exorcist”
vs. “Salem’s Lot”) mixed design. The first two factors were manipulated within-subjects.
Procedure. The experiment was conducted in a computer-based environment.
Participants arrived in the laboratory in groups of 15 to 20 and were assigned to one of the 20
laptops. They signed a consent form and were then instructed to start the experiment. The cover
story stated that the study was about movie preferences, and they were told they would randomly
be presented with three types of video clips that could include several movie genres, such as
documentaries, horror movies, dramas, and comedies. All participants watched a documentary to
set their affective state followed by a horror movie. Then they watched five minutes of a Friends
episode to raise participants’ feelings before they left the laboratory. Participants completed a
PANAS scale before and after the horror movie (i.e., documentary, PANAS, horror movie,
PANAS, comedy) to assess their positive and negative affective states as a result of the horror
18
movie exposure. Information about frequency of attendance per movie genre was recorded at the
end of the experiment. Finally, participants were asked to report any problems with the
experiment and were then properly debriefed.
Film Clips and the PANAS Scale. Two replicates were used to vary documentary and
horror movie exposure. Replicate 1 contained the documentary “Africa” followed by the horror
movie “The Exorcist,” whereas replicate 2 contained the documentary “Commercial Aviation”
followed by the horror movie “Salem’s Lot.” Both documentaries were four minutes long, and
were intended to create an affective baseline prior to the horror movie. Participants’ affective
states were recorded with the PANAS scale (i.e., a five-point twenty-item scale—10 positive
affect-related and 10 negative affect-related) after the documentary (i.e., prior to the horror
movie). Each horror clip displayed intense scary scenes (e.g., the exorcist ritual) and lasted
approximately 10 minutes. The PANAS scale was once again presented after the horror movie.
FAP versus FAV Consumers. At the end of the experiment (after the Friends episode) we
assessed participants’ frequency of attendance for seven different movie genres. Since the
study’s cover story was about movie preferences, and participants did watch different movie
genres, frequency of attendance questions about genres other the horror were inserted to
minimize any potential response biases and hypothesis guessing. Two groups were created: those
who watch horror movies at least once a month and presumably choose to experience some level
of fear (FAPs) and those who refrain from this exposure and watch horror movies at most once a
year (FAVs) either at home, on video, or in the theaters.
19
Results
The 10 positive affect-related items and the 10 negative affect-related items gathered
before and after horror movie presentation were collapsed to form the respective PA and NA
indexes(α NAbefore= .92; α NAafter= .89; α PAbefore= .91; α PAafter= .81). Valence (positive vs.
negative) and time of recording (prior vs. after the horror movies) represented the two within-
subjects variables. Participants’ chosen exposure to horror movies (FAP vs. FAV) and the two
replicates (Africa-The Exorcist vs. Aviation-Salem’s Lot) comprised the two between-subjects
variables. The replicate factor did not interact with any of the others factors on participants’
feelings (F(1, 83) = .05, p > .10), so the replicates were collapsed. A three way interaction
emerged with valence, time of recording, and chosen exposure to horror movies interacting on
affective state (F(1, 85) = 9.21, p < .005; see figures 1 and 2).
--- Insert Figures 1 and 2 about Here ---
As predicted, the data revealed different changes in positive and negative affective states
as a result of participants’ chosen exposure to horror movies. Among FAVs, watching the horror
movie significantly increased negative affect (Mbefore = 1.25 vs. Mafter = 2.49; F(1, 55) = 81.7, p <
.001), whereas positive affect remained unchanged (Mbefore = 2.19 vs. Mafter = 2.16; F(1, 55) =
.06, p > .10). Among FAPs, watching the horror movie also significantly increased negative
affect (Mbefore = 1.45 vs. Mafter = 2.34; F(1, 31) = 35.06, p < .001). However, unlike FAVs,
watching the horror movie significantly increased positive affect as well (Mbefore = 2.10 vs. Mafter
= 2.62; F(1, 31) = 11.56, p < .005). Importantly, negative affect measured after the horror movie
20
did not differ between FAPs and FAVs (F(1, 85) = .53, p > .10), whereas FAPs reported stronger
post-exposure positive affect compared to FAVs (F(1, 85) = 9.46, p < .005).
Discussion
Experiment 1 produced three main findings. First, participants experienced an increase in
negative affect independently of their preference for horror movies. FAPs and FAVs reported an
increase in negative affect after the horror movie compared to their immediately prior affective
state. They also displayed very similar levels of negative affect. This pattern of results provides
initial evidence divergent from the intensity models, which suggests significantly weaker (if any)
negative affect among FAP consumers. The data also speak against the aftermath models, which
propose that the relieving and pleasant affective consequences result only from a reduction in
negative affect after stimulus removal (or after the suspense is over). The current data show,
instead, that after the movie clip ended, FAPs reported an increase in positive affect as well as an
increase in negative affect. Since the expected reduction in negative affect under an aftermath
model was not present and was not necessary for participants to experience positive affect, this
casts doubt on that model’s relief/pleasure process. Instead, the PANAS data provide initial
evidence consistent with a coactivation-based model, which allows for positive and negative
affective states to increase simultaneously as a result of a particular emotional event. For FAPs
positive affect as well as negative affect increased as a result of the movie.
Some caveats must be highlighted. First, though the PANAS scale is so widely used that
it is customary to conduct a study (in this and related domains) using it, the scale has its
limitations. It has been established that PANAS captures some amount of arousal along with the
21
valence component of affect (e.g., “excited,” “distressed”) and that weakly arousing emotional
states (e.g., “happy,” “sad”) are not assessed. As a result, the scale may overstate the
independence of positive and negative affect (Barrett and Russell 1998), possibly heightening
directional support for coactivation. Notice, however, that if the scale per se were to drive the
effects, it should have influenced both FAVs and FAPs, and this was not the case. A second
concern is that affective changes were recorded only after the movie and at a single point in time.
Thus, measurement at that one instance constrains stronger statements about the absence of any
relieving consequences. One could claim that positive affect emerged, at least in part, as a result
of relief, since the data were collected after the aversive stimuli were removed. Finally, a
distinction must be made between a state of coactivation (i.e., a positive and negative feelings
being experienced at the same time) and a mode of coactivation (i.e., reflected by both positive
and negative feelings moving in the same direction over time). A continuous within-subjects
measure of positive and negative feelings tackles this issue.
EXPERIMENT 2 (ONLINE AFFECT GRID – WITHIN-SUBJECTS)
In this second experiment participants were presented with a horror movie consisting of
an aversive long scene followed by a short neutral scene. Based on Larsen et al.’s (2005) recent
evaluative space grid, an online affect grid (OAG) was presented to participants so that they
could continuously report both affective states with a single measure. Also, to avoid a potential
positive arousal interpretation of the positive affect constructs—a concern when the PANAS
scale is used—, participants were asked to report specific feelings related to happiness (rather
than excitement and activation) and fear.
22
This methodology allows us to track the impact of relief and, thus, provide a stronger test
of the aftermath rationale. Aftermath models predict that FAPs should benefit the most from the
frequently experienced relieving consequences of horror movie exposure, presumably because of
a longer history of reinforcement. Coactivation, on the other hand, predicts that pleasure can also
be experienced during the aversive event. Therefore, the relieving benefits should be higher for
FAVs who also should not experience positive affect during the aversive event (i.e., one they
have repeatedly chosen to avoid). Also, contrary to the intensity models, coactivation suggests
that negative feelings could be experienced at similar levels and with similar patterns when FAPs
and FAVs are contrasted. Finally, assessing the co-occurrence of positive and negative feelings
with a continuous measure will allow us to examine the emergence of a positive correlation
between feelings of fear and happiness at the aggregate and at the individual level. The later tests
the hypothesis that consumers are not only in a state of coactivation (that might reflect
alternating emotions) but simultaneously experiencing parallel movements in positive and
negative emotional responses (i.e., coactivation as a mode of response).
Method
Participants and Design. Seventy-five students from a western university were paid $15
in exchange for their participation in the experiment. The study adopted a two (affect measure:
fear vs. happiness) by two (type of scene: aversive vs. neutral) by two (chosen exposure to horror
movie: FAP vs. FAV) by two (grid: X = fear/Y = happiness vs. X = happiness/Y = fear) mixed
design. The first two factors were manipulated within-subjects.
23
Procedure. The procedure was similar to that in the previous experiment. The cover story
stated that the study was about movie preferences and that they would randomly watch three
types of video clips, which could include several movie genres such as documentaries, horror
movies, dramas, and comedies. All participants watched 2 minutes of a documentary, which (1)
set a more neutral affective state prior to the horror movie and (2) allowed participants to
practice the online affect grid (OAG). Then they watched approximately four and a half minutes
of a horror movie. While watching each film clip participants were asked to report their feelings
(happiness and fear). We stressed that they should focus on their current feelings instead of
trying to provide an overall assessment of the movie (i.e., attitude). People’s ability to separate
out feelings from evaluations using an online measurement tool has been demonstrated in the
consumer behavior literature (Pham et al. 2001). Also, five minutes of a Friends episode was
included at the end of the experiment to raise participants’ feelings before they left the
laboratory. Information about frequency of attendance per movie genre was recorded at the end
of the experiment. Finally, participants were asked to report any problems with the experiment
and were then properly debriefed.
Online Affect Grid (OAG). Larsen and colleagues’ evaluative grid space was adapted so
that participants could continuously indicate how happy, joyful, and/or glad and how afraid,
scared, and/or alarmed they were feeling while watching the film clip (see Appendix 1).
To do so, they needed simply to drag the button on the grid using the mouse. The X and Y axes
represented either positive or negative feelings. Participants were randomly assigned to the X =
fear/Y = happiness or to the X = happiness/Y = fear conditions. In the former, participants were
instructed that if they were only afraid, scared, or alarmed, they should keep the button along the
24
X axis, moving it up and down as the feelings of fear modified. If they were feeling only happy,
joyful, or glad, they should keep the button along the Y axis, moving it right or left as the
feelings of happiness varied. The opposite instructions were presented in the Y = happiness/X =
fear condition. For both groups, they were instructed that if they experienced a combination of
both feelings, they could move the button anywhere in the grid. For instance, if they believed
that both feelings were increasing/decreasing at the same time, they should move the button
diagonally along or parallel to an imaginary line that linked the 0/0 to the 100/100 points on the
grid.
Although the use of fear-related constructs is intuitive, the adoption of happiness-related
constructs (happy, joyful, and glad) to capture positive affect deserves further justification.
Happiness was selected primarily for two reasons. First, a low-arousal positive affect construct
(happy) was required to avoid potential confounding with intensity measures (excited)—a
concern when the PANAS scale is used. Second, the construct should also minimize individuals’
potential confusion between an accurate report of current feelings and specific evaluations of the
film clip that might be captured by more attitude-like affective terms (e.g., amused, pleased).
Film Clip. Participants were presented with an approximately 4 minute scene of the
horror movie Salem’s Lot—a different scene from the one used in experiment 1. The clip shows
a sequence of events that intensifies as the story unfolds (i.e., a noise upstairs/suspense, an
encounter with the ghost, graphic depiction of the ghost’s scars, and the disappearance of the
ghost/end of the scene). In order to capture any potential relieving effects, 27 seconds of a
neutral scene from the same movie was added after the end of the aversive scene. The neutral
scene showed two actors, other than those from the previous scene, chatting in front of a store.
25
During the movie, participants’ feelings were recorded every 3 sec, which produced 84 data
points per participant.
Results
Manipulation Check. As expected, the properties of the grid (i.e., fear or happiness
represented by the X or Y axis) did not interact with the other three factors (F(1, 69) = .41, p
>.10). The two levels of the grid factor were then collapsed.
Affective Strength. Participants’ feelings experienced during each type of scene were
averaged to assess affective strength. The results show that reported affective state (fear vs.
happiness), chosen exposure to horror movies (FAP vs. FAV), and type of scene (aversive vs.
neutral) interacted on participants’ feelings (F(1, 71) = 5.38, p < .005).
Insert Figures 3 and 4 About Here
A closer look shows that the interaction is mainly driven by participants’ assessments of
their positive feelings (see figures 3 and 4). When separated by affective state (fear vs.
happiness), type of scene, and chosen exposure to horror movie did not interact on fear-related
feelings (F (1, 73) = .01, p > .10). A straightforward main effect of type of scene emerged in
which, for both FAPs and FAVs, the neutral scenes were less fearful (M = 18.1) than the aversive
scenes (M = 51.6, F (1, 73) = 95.89, p < .001). More interestingly, the two factors interacted on
happiness-related feelings (F (1, 73) = 10.61, p < .005). Pairwise comparisons showed, as we
26
predicted, that FAVs reported more positive feelings after the aversive scene was replaced by a
neutral scene (Maversive = 2.4 vs. Mneutral = 15.0, F = (1, 53) = 34.74, p < .001), whereas no
difference was found among FAPs (Maversive = 10.6 vs. Mneutral = 10.7, F = (1, 20) = .01, p > .10).
Affective Pattern. The OAG allowed us to test (with a continuous within-subjects
measure) the correlations between the affective states under investigation. The 84 fear and
happiness data points were averaged for FAPs and FAVs. The results show that among FAVs
there was a negative correlation between fear and happiness-related feelings (r = -.603, p < .001).
However, the opposite was true for FAPs, with a positive correlation between these two affective
states (r = .362, p < .001; see figure 5).
The same correlational tests were conducted at the individual level (i.e., subject-by-
subject). To do so, first, Fisher-z transformations of the individual correlations between fear and
happiness during exposure to the horror scenes were conducted. The transformed correlations
were then averaged and submitted to an ANOVA, which resulted in a significant main effect of
frequency of chosen exposure to horror movies (F(1, 62) = 4.80, p < .05). As predicted, FAVs
displayed a negative mean correlation (M = -14.21) whereas FAP consumers displayed a positive
relationship between fear and happiness (M = 14.04). With respect to magnitude, these
differences were not significantly different from zero (p > .10).
Insert Figure 5 about Here
Discussion
27
This second experiment provides three main contributions. First, it replicates experiment
1 findings using a different means of measurement by showing that, contrary to the intensity
models, the level and pattern of fear-related feelings were similar between those who repeatedly
chose to expose themselves to fear-arousing horror movies (FAPs) and those who chose to avoid
them (FAVs). Second, contrary to the aftermath rationale, FAVs (rather than FAPs) derived
more pleasure from the removal of the aversive stimulus (i.e., during the neutral scenes), despite
the fact that the drop in fear was equal across both groups. For FAPs, the relief-based benefits
were virtually absent. And finally, the subject by subject analysis of the OAG provided unique
evidence that co-occurrence not only took place among FAPs but presented itself in the shape of
a positive correlation: pleasantness emerged along with negative affective responses to the most
fearful stimulus material. This is consistent with coactivation as a general response mode,
although the averaged (Fisher-z transformed) correlation did not significantly differ from zero.
The opposite pattern holds true for FAVs who displayed a negative correlation between fear and
happiness-related feelings.
Measurement of affect is challenging, and we employed two very different types of
measures in the first two studies as a way of improving validity and avoiding any directional
bias. However, experiment 2 uses a cognitively demanding measurement of affect. Indeed, a few
participants mentioned that having to report their feelings on a non-intuitive grid somewhat
distracted them from paying full attention to the movie. Although the grid has been validated
with a single point assessment task (Larsen et al. 2005), it may not perform as well when a
longitudinal/continuous measure is used. Also, to explain how the grid worked, participants were
instructed about several potential patterns of assessment, including the upward diagonal
assessment which could suggest that there might be a positive correlation between the two
28
feeling states. Although such instructions cannot account for the correlation reversals between
the two groups, it could have reinforced this possibility among FAP consumers. Finally, the
aggregated correlations were influenced, at least in part, by the presence of a neutral scene after
the aversive scene (i.e., stronger negative correlations among FAVs and weaker positive
correlations among FAPs). These issues were tackled in experiment 3A and 3B where a
somewhat different measure was employed.
EXPERIMENT 3A (ONLINE AFFECT SCALE – BETWEEN-SUBJECTS)
In this experiment a between-subjects measure of affective state was used. Participants
were asked to continuously report either happiness or fear-related feelings on a simple 100-point
online affect scale (OAS). This measure reduces the complexity of the task and avoids
instructions that could bias participants toward a particular response pattern. Moreover, only the
aversive scene was presented to participants. Thus, happiness-related feelings, if any, would have
to be experienced in conjunction with the negative event.
Again, we tested the hypothesis that throughout the video display happiness-related
feelings are expected to be higher for those who repeatedly chose to expose themselves to fear-
arousing horror movies (FAPs) compared to FAVs, despite the fact that fear-related feelings
could also be present at similar levels and patterns when both groups are contrasted. Also, we
assessed if the correlation between happiness and fear-related feelings would remain positive for
FAPs and negative (or null) for FAVs when a between-subjects setting is used and when there is
no neutral scene presented after the aversive clip.
29
Method
Participants, Design, and Procedure. Eighty-one students from a western university were
paid $10 in exchange for their participation in the experiment. The experiment adopted a two
(affect measure: happiness vs. fear) by two (chosen exposure to horror movies: FAP vs. FAV)
between-subjects design. The procedure was similar to that in the previous experiment, except
for the video (i.e., only the aversive scene was shown) and the affect measure (i.e., OAS replaced
OAG).
Online Affect Scale (OAS) and Film Clip. A hundred-point bipolar scale was located
below the video screen. It instructed participants to continuously indicate how happy, joyful,
and/or glad (vs. afraid, scared, and/or alarmed) they were feeling while watching the film clip.
Again, they were instructed to report their feelings rather than to provide a general evaluation
(i.e., attitude-like) assessment of the film clip. To do so, they needed simply to drag the button
on the scale using the mouse (see Appendix 2). Participants were presented with the aversive
scene of the movie Salem’s Lot (the same scene presented in experiment 2). Participants’
feelings were recorded every 3 sec, which produced 75 data points per participant.
Results
Affective Strength. By averaging the affective reactions it was possible to test whether
participants’ overall affective levels varied between FAPs and FAVs. Reported affective state
(fear vs. happiness) and chosen exposure to horror movies (FAV vs. FAP) interacted on
30
participants’ feelings (F(1, 77) = 11.06, p = .001; see figure 6). Pairwise comparisons showed
that when asked to report fear-related feelings, no difference emerged between FAPs (M = 45.0)
and FAVs (M = 53.0; F(1, 77) = 1.44, p > .10). However, when asked to report happiness-related
feelings, as expected, FAPs reported higher levels (M = 28.0) than FAVs (M = 3.8; F(1, 77) =
11.88, p = .001).
Insert Figure 6 About Here
Affective Patterns. The OAS also allowed us to see whether the patterns of affective
states varied throughout the scenes across conditions (see figure 7). For fear-related feelings, the
patterns were similar for both FAPs and FAVs. However, for happiness-related feelings, the
patterns varied substantially between the two groups. Most importantly, we found a negative
correlation between fear and happiness among FAVs (r = -.472, p < .001) and a positive
correlation among FAPs (r = .890, p < .001).
Insert Figure 7 About Here
Discussion
Using the OAS we found once again that those who repeatedly chose to expose
themselves to fear-arousing horror movies (FAPs) and those who chose to avoid them (FAVs)
displayed similar patterns of fearfulness throughout exposure to the aversive experience as well
as no significant differences in intensity of fear reactions. Second, FAPs showed high levels of
31
positive feelings throughout the movie, even when no opportunity for relief was made possible.
Finally, co-occurrence of fear and happiness-related feelings took place among the FAP
consumers, with a positive correlation between the two feeling states. Thus, participants not only
experienced “opposite” affective states at the same time, but, the most fearful scenes were clearly
perceived to be the most pleasant ones.
Although the evidence so far is consistent with coactivation assumptions, coactivation by
itself does not make predictions about when people would choose to experience negative affect.
Apter’s (1982, 1992) notion of a protective frame has been used to explain when people would
engage in extreme/dangerous sports. In this final experiment we examine the role of a protective
frame (via detachment) by showing how it changes FAVs affective responses from those
observed in our previous studies.
EXPERIMENT 3B (THE PROTECTIVE FRAME)
People’s somatic and psychological reactions to fear, anxiety, stress and other aversive states
have evolved as part of a complex pattern of response to real (i.e., personally relevant and
consequential) events. Horrifying and/or suspenseful movie scenes (especially those depicting
people like ourselves at risk, under bodily threat or worse) can also produce meaningful levels of
negative affect, and consequently fairly high arousal. We learn, however, to separate reality from
fiction and how to disengage to some degree so that our emotional responses are moderated. A
protective frame, specifically one incorporating detachment (Apter 1992), constitutes one such
disengagement mechanism. An ideal detachment frame gives people the ability to increase
psychological distance from the main actors of the movie, while still absorbing the impact of the
32
scenes. It is doubtful that each of us has the identical repertoire of response mechanisms,
including different mechanisms for emotional disengagement, or that we are equally adept in
using them. Moving in the opposite direction, prior research has shown that high levels of
cognitive empathy (i.e., perspective taking) can significantly reduce people’s ability to
experience positive affect when facing negative stimuli and that emotional empathy (i.e.,
empathic concern) tends to heighten negative affect (Davis et al. 1987). Also, when viewers are
asked to watch aversive (e.g., disgusting) scenes and to put themselves in the character’s shoes,
their ability to experience amusement decreases significantly (Hemenover and Schimmack
2004). In this final experiment, we embed participants within a protective frame in order to
determine whether those who have regularly avoided aversive experiences (FAVs) will now
experience coactivation, that is, display positive feelings while still being absorbed by the
fearfulness of the event, something they were not able to do in the past.
We predict that, contrary to the results found in experiment 3A, no difference should
emerge between FAPs and FAVs when they are all embedded within a given protective frame. In
other words, FAVs should be capable of experiencing positive feelings along with feelings of
fear and display a positive correlation between the two affective states. No change should be
perceived among those who repeatedly chose to expose themselves to fear-arousing horror
movies (FAPs) since they have apparently learned how to disengage to a necessary degree or to
create a protective frame, and our framing instructions should add little.
Method
33
Participants and Design. Eighty three students from a western university were paid $10
to $15 in exchange for their participation in the experiment. The study adopted a 2 (affect
measure: fear vs. happiness) by 2 (chosen exposure to horror movies: FAP vs. FAV) between-
subjects design.
Procedure and Protective Frame. The experiment was identical to experiment 3A,
however, all participants were presented with a detachment frame manipulation. In a horror
movie scenario, we provided participants with cues that would continuously remind them that the
main characters were “simply actors playing a role.” Two cues were provided. First, participants
were exposed to the actors’ biography prior to the video, distancing them as “real people” from
participants. Second, during the video, regular pictures of the two main actors (i.e., the scared
person and the ghost) were placed next to the screen (see appendixes 3 and 4). To avoid
participants’ potential bias towards a general evaluation of the movie or of the actors, they were
reminded that they should focus exclusively on assessing their ongoing feelings as they watched
the video rather than providing a general assessment of the film clip or of the actors’
performance (Pham et al. 2001).
Results
Affective Strength. Contrary to experiment 3A and consistent with our conceptualization,
there was no interaction between reported affective state and chosen exposure to horror movies
on participants’ feelings (F(1, 79) = 1.37, p > .10; see figure 8). Of particular interest, the main
reason for the absence of an interaction is the relative increase in the happiness-related feelings
34
among FAVs. Pairwise comparisons showed that FAVs reported the same level of positive
feelings (M = 17.4) as did FAPs (M = 21.0; F = (1, 79) = .21, p > .10). It is also important that no
changes between FAVs (M = 45.3) and FAPs (M = 35.7) were found when they were asked to
assess their negative feelings (F = (1, 79) = 1.43, p > .10). So the increase in happiness for those
who repeatedly chose to avoid these aversive experiences did not come as a result of a significant
drop in fear-related feelings.
Insert Figure 8 About Here
Affective Pattern. Again, the online affect scale (OAS) allowed us to continuously
observe participants’ affective reactions and examine the correlations. Among FAPs, the results
replicated the patterns found in experiment 3A (see figure 9), and we found a positive correlation
between fear and happiness-related feelings (r = .456, p < .001). In other words, as predicted, the
protective frame had no added influence for this group. However, among FAVs, the protective
frame promoted a positive correlation between the two affective states, thereby reversing the
negative correlation displayed in experiment 3A (r = .642, p < .001).
Insert Figure 9 About Here
Discussion
Experiment 3B showed that a protective frame allows those who repeatedly chose to
avoid these aversive experiences to experience positive feelings when exposed to a horror movie.
35
We found not only a relative increase in happiness-related feelings (compared to experiment 3A)
but also a non significant difference between people with approach and avoidance histories.
Also, the pattern of affective reactions (i.e., happiness and fear) among FAVs switched from a
negative correlation in experiment 3A to a positive correlation in experiment 3B, which provides
an indication that individuals can experience pleasure when facing an apparent aversive stimulus
if a protective frame (via detachment) is provided. This demonstrates that coactivation, as a
statement of our ability to experience positive and negative emotions simultaneously, provides a
necessary but not sufficient rationale for the enjoyment of otherwise fearful experiences. Some
type of protective frame (or other form of disengagement) provides the key to understanding
both who and when people will experience positive affect under these circumstances.
GENERAL DISCUSSION
In this article, we assessed how (1) the intensity of negative feelings, (2) positive feelings
in the aftermath, and (3) the coactivation of positive and negative feelings contribute to our
understanding of people’s affective reactions to what is perceived to be an apparently aversive
experience. Precisely, when and how is pleasantness experienced when people choose to face
apparent aversive events? In a series of 4 studies, we showed, first, that contrary to a key
intensity model assumption, those who pursue such apparently aversive events, actually do
experience a similar level and pattern of negative feelings as those who have deliberately
avoided them. This is an important demonstration that positive affect does not merely replace
negative affect because of interactions with arousal (particularly at relatively low levels).
Second, we demonstrated that, contrary to the aftermath rationale, feelings of relief were stronger
36
among those who have avoided the experience in the past compared to those who have
frequently chosen to expose themselves to such stimuli. In other words, those who have avoided
the experience were able to obtain the greatest reward from it (were they able to overcome their
initial aversion). Third, we provided evidence that is inconsistent with existing versions of both
intensity and aftermath models. Positive and negative feelings co-occurred when people are
exposed to the aversive stimuli (e.g., a horror movie). Importantly, we presented evidence that
such co-occurrence can appear in the shape of a positive correlation between feelings of opposite
valence (e.g., fear and happiness) during the exposure to the event. Moreover, a subject-by-
subject correlational analysis in experiment 2 showed a positive (negative) correlation among
approach-oriented (avoidance-oriented) consumers, suggesting parallel movements in positive
and negative emotional responses (i.e., coactivation as a mode of response) rather than mere
alternation of positive and negative responses for FAPs. However, as the correlations differed
from one another but did not differ from zero, future research is required before evidence of
mode of coactivation can be claimed.
Finally, we demonstrated the importance of being in a protective frame. When
individuals who typically choose to avoid the stimuli were embedded in a protective frame of
mind, such that there was sufficient psychological disengagement or detachment, they
experienced positive feelings while still experiencing fearfulness. Research on coactivation has
shown that mixed feelings usually produce ambivalence and, consequently, psychological
discomfort. So confirmation of coactivation assumptions sheds little light on why individuals
would pursue mixed feelings in the first place (e.g., watch comedy-drama genres as in Larsen et
al. 2001; or watch horror movie as in our research). Personality traits may provide part of the
answer. People vary in their propensity to accept duality, which can mitigate the discomfort
37
associated with coactivation (Williams and Aaker 2002). Within the counter-hedonic behavior
context, it is possible that being embedded in a protective frame can help people avoid the
discomfort that emerges when mixed feelings are experienced. In a recent working paper,
Hemenover and Schimmack (2004) provided a similar rationale to understand mixed feelings of
disgust and amusement. The authors manipulated detachment by asking participants to watch a
film clip and adopt the perspective either of the protagonist or of an outsider observer. Similar to
ours, the results confirmed that mixed feelings were more likely in the detachment manipulation
condition.
MOVING TOWARD AN INTEGRATIVE APPROACH
We have shown that if coactivation is adopted as a basic theoretical assumption and the
protective frame is represented as a necessary moderating variable, this facilitates our
understanding of people’s affective reactions to apparent aversive experiences. However, once
untenable assumptions are removed from the intensity and aftermath models each has something
to contribute in explaining counter-hedonic behavior. For instance, affect intensity may well vary
as a result of adaptation (Roth et al. 1996). Especially for intense affective events (e.g., extreme
sports), frequency of exposure may mitigate the perceived “aversiveness” of the event. Although
it would not explain why people approach these events, a lower level of experienced negativity
could allow individuals to perceive themselves within the protective frame. When the event is
too intense, people are likely to see themselves outside the protective frame, and positive affect
would probably not be experienced along with negative affect. Assessing people’s affective
changes and coactive reactions as a result of intensity levels and variations in typical and
38
intervention-based protective frames would shed considerable light on how people can adapt to
aversive stimuli and situations, some of which are unavoidably linked to barriers that need to be
overcome. In the same vein, coactivation and protective frames do not invalidate potential
benefits of relief. For instance, for extreme and short-lived events (e.g., bungee jumping), the
aftermath consequences may still be significant among experienced consumers. Two processes
may work in parallel: as novices gain experience the protective frame may reduce avoidance
forces while aftermath models contribute to approach forces. As a result, coactivation becomes
likely, and pleasantness can be experienced during and after the event (e.g., parachute jumping,
Solomon 1980). Finally, our focus has been on short-term activity-driven affective experiences.
Achieving long-term goals and value-driven behavior are also part of the explanation for
people’s willingness to experience fear, failure, and pain. Not only may individual activities be
instrumental in that sense, experiencing and tolerating negative affect probably contribute to
important and desirable traits. Though a meaningful discussion of such motivational processes is
beyond the scope of this article, recent speculation by Loewenstein (1999) on the reasons why
people practice mountaineering—an extreme sport known to trigger fear along with basic
biological affects such as pain, cold, thirst, and hunger—may be of interest (e.g., self-signaling).
LIMITATIONS AND FUTURE RESEARCH
The current research does not directly address how the interaction between positive and
negative affect comes about. That is, why are individuals willing to consume negative along with
positive feelings instead of exposing themselves to sources positive affect only? We offer two
speculations. One possibility is that negative affect represents a reliable source of arousal, which
39
can be continuously converted into positive affect as long as people place themselves within a
given protective frame. In that case, negative affect would represent a potential contributor to
positivity. To examine this issue, we conducted exploratory analyses of the correlations. Per one
of our reviewers’ suggestions, we used the data from experiment 2 to investigate the extent to
which correlations between fear at time t and happiness at time t+1 were significantly higher
than correlations between fear and happiness at time t. The results did not yield any significant
differences. Note, however, that the continuous data from this experiment were gathered every
three seconds, a potentially long period in terms of “conversion effects.” Future research could
certainly investigate this underlying process by using a more fine-grained data collection
procedure and analysis. A second possibility is that coactivation and a certain level of
uncertainty within a protective frame provides individuals with an overall—and in hindsight—
more pleasurable experience than, for instance, a pure and predictable positive experience. Thus,
the immediate gratification from coactively-experienced negative and positive affect may
significantly enhance enjoyment. In other words, experiencing mixed feelings within a protective
frame may well be more fun! This claim converges with some earlier psychological theories
which held that moderate levels of uncertainty and curiosity, and consequently a certain level of
aversiveness, can actually be fulfilling, hence people’s willingness to deliberately pursue them
(Hebb 1955). Further research could address these hypotheses.
Demand characteristics associated with the task represent a major concern for any
research on affect that requires participants to continuously report feeling states. For instance, it
is possible that consumers who had repeatedly chosen to expose themselves to levels of fear in
horror movies provided higher levels of positive affect than those who avoided such movies, at
least in part, in an attempt justify their preferences. We tried to minimize these effects, first, by
40
addressing not only levels but also patterns of feelings. It is not clear why that demand artifacts
would necessarily lead to positive correlations between fear and happiness. Second, the last
experiment tried to tackle the demand artifact problem by only including those who had chosen
to avoid horror movies (FAVs). Showing that the protective frame not only increased positive
affect but also reversed the correlation from negative to positive among such “avoiders,” reduces
the concern that positive coactivation might somehow be confined to those who had repeatedly
chosen exposure to horror movies
An alternative view is that the protective frame manipulation in experiment 3B changed
the stimulus itself rather than its interpretation. To tackle this concern, one possibility, as
pointed out by the associate editor, would be to take novices with and without a protective frame
through a training phase (i.e., watch several horror movies) and then present them all with the
target horror movie where no protective frame is provided. That would eliminate the
interpretation concern, as the target stimulus remains the same across conditions. Also, to
minimize general demand artifacts, non-subjective measures of feelings could be incorporated.
Tape recording of facial expressions represents a possibility for consumer researchers, although
coding of mixed feelings would certainly be a challenge. Another option is to use direct
physiological measures of brain activity such as fMRI and EEG. However, such techniques have
their own set of limitations. First, the mapping of the emotional brain is still far from conclusive
(Phan et al. 2002). Moreover, measures of brain activity usually require much simpler forms of
stimuli (e.g., pictures), which makes it harder to assess more complex experiences (e.g., movies).
Finally, this article focused on one particular source of aversiveness (horror movies) and
type of negative emotional experience (fear). There is no theoretical reason to believe that other
types of arousing emotional experiences would play by completely different rules. Hemenover
41
and Schimmack (2004) adopted a similar rationale to show the presence the mixed feelings of
disgust and amusement as a result of video exposure. However, we recognize that future research
is required to further investigate the impact of emotion specificity on coactivation. Also, sources
of negativity other than movies could be explored including, for instance, the consumption of
high-risk experiences, such as skydiving (Celsi, Rose, and Leigh 1993).
In short, we believe these studies advance our understanding of the consumption of
negative feelings by providing evidence of coactivation of negative and positive feelings and the
importance of a protective frame as a critical moderating variable as well as by further refining
the two prevailing theoretical positions in this domain. The approach and avoidance decisions
people make when confronting contexts that are likely to generate negative affect are quite
significant (and some may be key stepping stones to reaching important longer-term goals). We
need to learn much more about both the conditions favoring and hindering such behaviors and
about how subsequent emotional responses (and how they might be modified) affect continuing
goal pursuit.
42
APPENDIX 1
ONLINE AFFECT GRID (EXPERIMENT 2)
43
APPENDIX 2
ONLINE AFFECT SCALE (EXPERIMENTS 3A AND 3B)
44
APPENDIX 3
DETACHMENT MANIPULATION - SCREEN 1 (EXPERIMENT 3B)
45
APPENDIX 4
DETACHMENT MANIPULATION – SCREEN 2 (EXPERIMENT 3B)
46
REFERENCES
Adolphs, Ralph, James A. Russell, and Daniel Tranel (1999), “A Role for the Human Amygdala
in Recognizing Emotional Arousal from Unpleasant Stimuli,” Psychological Science, 10
(March), 167-171.
Andrade, Eduardo B. (2005), “Behavioral Consequences of Affect: Combining Evaluative and
Regulatory Mechanisms,” Journal of Consumer Research, 32 (December), 355-62.
Apter, Michael J. (1982), The Experience of Motivation: The Theory of Psychological Reversals,
London and New York: Academic Press.
_______ (1992), The Dangerous Edge: The Psychology of Excitement, New York: The Free
Press.
Ashby, Gregory F., Alice M. Isen, and U. Turken (1999), “A Neuropsychological Theory of
Positive Affect and Its Influence on Cognition,” Psychological Review, 106 (July), 529-
50.
Barrett, Lisa F. and James A. Russell (1998), “Independence and Bipolarity in the Structure of
Current Affect,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74 (April), 964-84.
Berlyne, Daniel E. (1960). Conflict, Arousal, and Curiosity, New York: McGraw-Hill.
Bradley, Margaret M., Maurizio Codispoti, Dean Sabatinelli, and Peter J. Lang. (2001),
“Emotion and Motivation II: Sex Differences in Picture Processing,” Emotion, 1
(September), 300–19.
Cacioppo, John T. and Gary G. Berntson (1994), “Relationship between Attitudes and Evaluative
Space: A Critical Review, With Emphasis on the Separability of Positive and Negative
Substrates,” Psychological Bulletin, 115 (May), 401-23.
47
Celsi, Richard L., Randall L. Rose, Thomas W. Leigh (1993), “An Exploration of High-Risk
Leisure Consumption through Skydiving,” Journal of Consumer Research, 20 (June), 1-
20.
Cohen, Joel B. and Eduardo B. Andrade (2004), “Affective Intuition and Task-Contingent Affect
Regulation,” Journal of Consumer Research, 31 (September), 358-67.
Davidson, Richard J. (1992), “Emotion and Affective Style: Hemispheric Substrates,”
Psychological Science, 3 (January), 39-43.
_________ (1998), “Affective Style and Affective Disorders: Perspectives from Affective
Neuroscience,” Cognition and Emotion, 12 (May), 307-30.
Davis, Mark H., Jay G. Hull, Richard D. Young, and Gregory G. Warren (1987), “Emotional
Reactions to Dramatic Film Stimuli: The Influence of Cognitive and Emotional
Empathy,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52 (January), 126-33.
Erber, Ralph., Daniel M. Wegner, and Nicole Therriault (1996), “On Being Cool and Collected:
Mood Regulation in Anticipation of Social Interaction,” Journal of Personality and
Social Psychology, 70 (April), 757-66.
Fenz, Walter D. and Seymour Epstein (1967), “Gradients of Physiological Arousal in
Parachutists as a Function of an Approaching Jump,” Psychosomatic Medicine, 29 (Jan-
Feb), 33-52.
Isen, Alice M. and Stanley F. Simmonds (1978), “The Effect of Feeling Good on a Helping Task
That is Incompatible with Good Mood,” Social Psychology, 41, 346-49.
Hemenover, Scott H. and Ulrich Schimmack (2004), “That’s Disgusting!...But Very Amusing:
Mixed Feelings of Amusement and Disgust,” working paper, University of Toronto at
Mississauga, Toronto, Canada.
48
Hebb, Donald O. (1955), “Drives and the CNS (conceptual nervous system),” Psychological
Review, 62, 243-54.
Lane, Richard D., Eric M. Reiman, Margaret M. Bradley, Peter J. Lang, Geoffrey L. Ahren,
Richard J. Davidson, and Gary E. Schwartz (1997), “Neuroanatomical Correlates of
Pleasant and Unpleasant Emotion,” Neuropsychologia, 35 (November), 1437-44.
Larsen, Jeff T., Scott H. Hemenover, Catherine J. Norris, and John T. Cacioppo (2003), “Turning
Adversity to Advantage: On the Virtues of the Coactivation of Positive and Negative
Emotions,” In A Psychology of Human Strengths: Perspectives on an Emerging Field, ed.
Lisa G. Aspinwall and Ursula M. Staudinger, Washington, DC: American Psychological
Association, 211-26.
Larsen, Jeff T., A. Peter McGraw, and John T. Cacioppo (2001), “Can People Feel Happy and
Sad at the Same Time?” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81(October), 684-
96.
Larsen, Jeff T., Catherine J. Norris, and John T. Cacioppo (2005), “The Evaluative Space Grid:
A Single-Item Measure of Positive and Negative Evaluative Reactions,” working paper,
Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas.
Lau-Gesk, Loraine (2005), “Understanding Consumer Evaluations of Mixed Affective
Experiences,” Journal of Consumer Research, 32 (June), 23-28.
LeDoux, Joseph (1996), The Emotional Brain: The Mysterious Underpinnings of Emotional Life,
New York, NY: Touchstone.
Loewenstein, George (1999), “Because It Is There: The Challenge of Mountaineering…for
Utility Theory,” Kyklos, 52, 315-44.
49
Maio, Gregory R. and James M. Olson (2000), Why We Evaluate: Functions of Attitudes,
Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Mellers, Barbara A. (2000), “Choice and the Relative Pleasure of Consequences,” Psychological
Bulletin, 126 (November), 910-24.
Pham, Michel T., Joel B. Cohen, John Pracejus, and G. David Hughes (2001), “Affect-
Monitoring and the Primacy of Feelings in Judgment,” Journal of Consumer Research,
28 (September), 167-88.
Phan, Luan K., Tor Wager, Stephan F. Taylor, and Israel Liberzon (2002), “Functional
Neuroanatomy of Emotion: A Meta-Analysis of Emotion Activation Studies in PET and
fMRI,” NeuroImage, 16, 331-48.
Roth, Walton T., Gunnar Breivik, Per Erik Jorgensen, and Stefan Hofmann (1996), “Activation
in Novice and Expert Parachutists while Jumping,” Psychophysiology, 33 (January), 63-
77.
Schachter, Stanley and Jerome E. Singer (1962), “Cognitive, Social and Physiological
Determinants of Emotional States,” Psychological Review, 69 (5), 379-99.
Schimmack, Ulrich (2001), “Pleasure, Displeasure, and Mixed Feelings? Are Semantic
Opposites Mutually Exclusive?,” Cognition and Emotion, 15, 81-97.
Solomon, Richard L. (1980), “The Opponent-Process Theory of Acquired Motivation: The Costs
of Pleasure and the Benefits of Pain,” American Psychologist, 35 (August), 691-712.
Solomon, Richard L. and John D. Corbit (1974), “An Opponent-Process Theory of Motivation: I.
Temporal Dynamics of Affect,” Psychological Review, 81 (March), 119-45.
50
Tice, Diane M., Ellen Bratslavsky, and Roy F. Baumeister (2001), “Emotional Distress
Regulation Takes Precedence over Impulse Control: If You Feel Bad, Do It!,” Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, 80 (January), 53-67.
Watson, David, Lee Anna Clark, and Auke Tellegen (1988), “Development and Validation of
Brief Measures of Positive and Negative Affect: The PANAS Scale,” Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, 54 (June), 1063-70.
Williams, Patti and Jennifer L. Aaker (2002), “Can Mixed Emotions Peacefully Coexist?”
Journal of Consumer Research, 28 (March), 636-49.
Zillmann, Dolf (1980), “The Anatomy of Suspense,” In The Entertainment Function of
Television, ed. Percy H. Tannenbaum, Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, 133-63.
Zuckerman, Marvin (1979), Sensation Seeking: Beyond the Optimal Level of Arousal, Hillsdale,
NJ: Erlbaum.
________ (1996), “Sensation Seeking and the Taste of Vacarious Horror,” In Horror Films:
Current Research on Audience Preferences and Reactions, ed. James B. Weaver III and
Ron Tamborini, Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 147-59.
51
FIGURES
FIGURE 1. AFFECTIVE CHANGES AMONG FAV CONSUMERS (EXPERIMENT 1)
52
FIGURE 2. AFFECTIVE CHANGES AMONG FAP CONSUMERS (EXPERIMENT 1)
53
FIGURE 3. FEAR-RELATED FEELINGS WITH THE ONLINE AFFECT GRID
(EXPERIMENT 2)
54
FIGURE 4. HAPPINESS-RELATED FEELINGS WITH THE ONLINE AFFECT GRID
(EXPERIMENT 2)
55
FIGURE 5. WITHIN-SUBJECTS ONLINE AFFECT FOR FAV AND FAP CONSUMERS
DURING HORROR MOVIE EXPOSURE (EXPERIMENT 2)
FAVs: r(Fear x Happiness) = -.603, p < .001, (2-tailed)
FAPs: r(Fear x Happiness) = .362, p < .001, (2-tailed)
56
FIGURE 6. AVERAGED AFFECTIVE STATES FOR FAV AND FAP CONSUMERS
DURING HORROR MOVIE EXPOSURE (EXPERIMENT 3A)
57
FIGURE 7. ONLINE AFFECT FOR FAV AND FAP CONSUMERS DURING HORROR
MOVIE EXPOSURE (EXPERIMENT 3A)
FAVs: r(Fear x Happiness) = -.472, p < .001, (2-tailed)
FAPs: r(Fear x Happiness) = .890, p < .001, (2-tailed)
58
FIGURE 8. AVERAGED AFFECTIVE STATES FOR FAV AND FAP CONSUMERS
DURING HORROR MOVIE EXPOSURE WITHIN A PROTECTIVE FRAME
(EXPERIMENT 3B)
59
FIGURE 9. ONLINE AFFECT FOR FAV AND FAP CONSUMERS DURING HORROR
MOVIE EXPOSURE WITHIN A PROTECTIVE FRAME (EXPERIMENT 3B)
FAVs: r(Fear x Happiness) = .456, p < .001, (2-tailed)
FAPs: r(Fear x Happiness) = .642, p < .001, (2-tailed)
... Thus, hope and fear were assumed to have a unidimensional structure in which turns on the measurement dial from one direction to the other were used to indicate a change of emotion. Andrade and Cohen (2007), who considered the mixed emotions felt during horror movies, conceptualized suspense in terms of happiness and fear. In their second study, participants provided MTM data while watching a horror movie by dragging a computer mouse across a grid represented by two groups of emotions: (a) happiness (happy, joyful, and/or glad) on the Y axis and (b) fear (afraid, scared, and/or alarmed) on the X axis. ...
... Hope-fear has long been theorized to best represent suspense (Ortony et al., 1988;Roseman et al., 1996), whereas Andrade and Cohen (2007) considered the happy-fear mixture. Happy-sad was included as an alternative to Andrade and Cohen's scaling in that fear is replaced by sad, which is the polar opposite emotion of happy (Remington, Fabrigar, & Visser, 2000;Russell, 1980). ...
... To do this, MTM hope and fear data in our final two studies were collected from separate samples rather than from the same participant as was done in study 1 (cf. Andrade & Cohen, 2007;Experiments 3A and 3B). For each emotion, MTM ratings were collapsed across individuals to compute a MTM mean score for each second of the race. ...
Article
The topic of mixed emotions has received considerable attention in recent years. However, two limitations in this research are the lack of (a) theoretical prediction regarding the types of conditions likely to cause one emotion to yield to another, and (b) attention given to the moment-to-moment (MTM) experience of mixed emotions. Using the empirical context of competitive contests, the mixed emotions state of suspense was manipulated in a series of studies designed to address these shortcomings. The results indicate that the most appropriate emotion pair to describe suspense is hope and fear. In addition, we find that the juxtaposition of these two emotions over the temporal sequence relies on viewers' interpretation of observed events relative to a preferred outcome. The results indicate a prevalence of bipolarity between hope and fear at lower levels of suspense and bivariance at higher levels. Given a high-suspense episode, both hope and fear are activated; whereas when suspense is low, hope (fear) is ascendant and fear (hope) declines when it becomes obvious a preferred competitor will ultimately win (lose).
... Early research suggested that people have varying needs for seeking out emotions or arousal through constructs such as sensation-seeking (Zuckerman 1979), novelty seeking (Hirschman 1980;Lee and Crompton 1992), need for emotion (Raman, Chattopadhyay, and Hoyer 1995), need for affect (Maio and Esses 2001), and arousal seeking (Mehrabian and Russell 1973), and that people, in their quest for such stimuli (incidentally) may engage in painful activities (Andrade and Cohen 2007). By taking point of departure in discrete emotions, Harmon-Jones et al. (2011), conversely, show that individuals differ in their subjective experiences of different emotions. ...
... As such, individuals vary in how negatively they perceive different emotions, such as anger and sadness, and these attitudes affect how likely they are to expose themselves to related stimuli. On the other hand, aftermath-based models such as the opponent-process theory (Solomon and Corbit 1974) build on the idea that people may endure painful experiences because pleasant sensations will follow when the initial stimulus is removed (Andrade and Cohen 2007). Scholars have also proposed that people engage in painful activities as a way to escape the self (Baumeister 1988;Scott, Cayla, and Cova 2017), to escape boredom (Bench and Lench 2019), or due to a curiosity about death or harm (Oosterwijk 2017).While these accounts elucidate some aspects of people's interest in activities involving pain, they are less adept at explaining why some people enjoy various types of physically and emotionally painful activities while they are happening and because they are painful (Andrade and Cohen 2007;Rozin et al. 2013). ...
... On the other hand, aftermath-based models such as the opponent-process theory (Solomon and Corbit 1974) build on the idea that people may endure painful experiences because pleasant sensations will follow when the initial stimulus is removed (Andrade and Cohen 2007). Scholars have also proposed that people engage in painful activities as a way to escape the self (Baumeister 1988;Scott, Cayla, and Cova 2017), to escape boredom (Bench and Lench 2019), or due to a curiosity about death or harm (Oosterwijk 2017).While these accounts elucidate some aspects of people's interest in activities involving pain, they are less adept at explaining why some people enjoy various types of physically and emotionally painful activities while they are happening and because they are painful (Andrade and Cohen 2007;Rozin et al. 2013). ...
Article
Paradoxical at first sight, some tourists engage in activities involving negative emotions and even physical pain. Tourism scholars have begun investigating this phenomenon and have called for more of such research. Against this background, the authors introduce to tourism the notion of benign masochism, defining it as a trait describing a person’s tendency to embrace and seek pleasure through safely playing with a stimulating level of physical pain and negative emotions. In doing so, the authors root benign masochism in the notion of play from evolutionary psychology and develop a benign masochism scale that is able to predict various tourism outcomes, including willingness to visit a haunted house, to go on a challenging adventure holiday, and to visit a nuclear disaster site. The authors conclude by discussing theoretical and managerial implications as well as limitations and future opportunities for research.
... By being aware of the glass wall when encountering the spider, the situation becomes less threatening, arousing, and perhaps even more exciting. This view on media awareness converges with the popular idea among scholars that media provide a protective layer (Andrade and Cohen, 2007), or playground (Vorderer, 2001), because represented objects have no physical impact (e.g., they do not hurt), and their psychological impact can be relatively well controlled (e.g., regulation of undesired affect). ...
... Hence, the consequences of perceptual sensations (e.g., sensing the presence of an attacking bear) might not only be dampened but also reversed in their valence. For example, while sensing the presence of an attacking bear should instigate distress, being aware that "this is not really happening" allows to reverse the valence of this arousal, and thus turn distress into pleasurable excitement (Andrade and Cohen, 2007). This principle of hedonic reversals is well known from roller-coaster rides (body in fear, mind believes it is safe = fun) and other pleasurable body-over-mind experiences (e.g., chili consumption, Rozin et al., 2013). ...
Article
Full-text available
Inspired by the widely recognized idea that in VR/XR, not only presence but also encountered plausibility is relevant (Slater, Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B, 2009, 364 (1535), 3549–3557), we propose a general psychological parallel processing account to explain users’ VR and XR experience. The model adopts a broad psychological view by building on interdisciplinary literature on the dualistic nature of perceiving and experiencing (mediated) representations. It proposes that perceptual sensations like presence are paralleled by users’ belief that “this is not really happening,” which we refer to as media awareness. We review the developmental underpinnings of basic media awareness, and argue that it is triggered in users’ conscious exposure to VR/XR. During exposure, the salience of media awareness can vary dynamically due to factors like encountered sensory and semantic (in)consistencies. Our account sketches media awareness and presence as two parallel processes that together define a situation as a media exposure situation. We also review potential joint effects on subsequent psychological and behavioral responses that characterize the user experience in VR/XR. We conclude the article with a programmatic outlook on testable assumptions and open questions for future research.
... By being aware of the glass wall when encountering the spider, the situation becomes less threatening, arousing, and perhaps even more exciting. This view on media awareness converges with the popular idea among scholars that media provide a protective layer (Andrade and Cohen, 2007), or playground (Vorderer, 2001), because represented objects have no physical impact (e.g., they do not hurt), and their psychological impact can be relatively well controlled (e.g., regulation of undesired affect). ...
... Hence, the consequences of perceptual sensations (e.g., sensing the presence of an attacking bear) might not only be dampened but also reversed in their valence. For example, while sensing the presence of an attacking bear should instigate distress, being aware that "this is not really happening" allows to reverse the valence of this arousal, and thus turn distress into pleasurable excitement (Andrade and Cohen, 2007). This principle of hedonic reversals is well known from roller-coaster rides (body in fear, mind believes it is safe = fun) and other pleasurable body-over-mind experiences (e.g., chili consumption, Rozin et al., 2013). ...
Article
Full-text available
Inspired by the widely recognized idea that in VR/XR, not only presence but also encountered plausibility is relevant (Slater, Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B, 2009, 364 (1535), 3549-3557), we propose a general psychological parallel processing account to explain users' VR and XR experience. The model adopts a broad psychological view by building on interdisciplinary literature on the dualistic nature of perceiving and experiencing (mediated) representations. It proposes that perceptual sensations like presence are paralleled by users' belief that "this is not really happening," which we refer to as media awareness. We review the developmental underpinnings of basic media awareness, and argue that it is triggered in users' conscious exposure to VR/XR. During exposure, the salience of media awareness can vary dynamically due to factors like encountered sensory and semantic (in)consistencies. Our account sketches media awareness and presence as two parallel processes that together define a situation as a media exposure situation. We also review potential joint effects on subsequent psychological and behavioral responses that characterize the user experience in VR/XR. We conclude the article with a programmatic outlook on testable assumptions and open questions for future research.
... Therefore, rather than trait anxiety, we are more concerned about the influence of consumers on decision-making under state anxiety, and anxious consumers tend to make decisions that promote a sense of security and self-control (Raghunathan et al., 2006) such as compulsive buying (Darrat et al., 2016). Studies have shown that consumer emotional factors play a role in advertising persuasion (Lau-Gesk and Meyers-Levy, 2009), motivate and persuade consumers, and often guide people's attitudes and behaviors (Andrade and Cohen, 2007). Existing research does not shed light on the form of advertising that anxious consumers prefer. ...
Article
Full-text available
Companies often seek to persuade consumers to buy products or services through assertive advertising, but such advertising is often resisted by consumers. In order to identify ways to increase consumers' preference for assertive advertising, this study starts by considering consumers' anxiety and finds, through two between-group experiments, that the emotional state of consumers when viewing advertisements affects their attitudes toward assertive advertisements: anxious consumers have a more positive attitudes toward assertive advertisement, and cognitive fluency plays a mediating role in the relationship between consumer anxiety and consumer attitudes toward assertive advertisement. This study incorporates consumer anxiety into the study of assertive advertising, thus both enriching the theoretical research on assertive advertising and consumer anxiety and providing novel ideas for companies to enhance the effectiveness of their assertive advertising strategies.
... They propose that positive emotions are as important as negative emotions in determining behaviour and that even though negative emotions can pose problems for the adoption of new technologies, positive emotions may counterbalance the undesirable consequences of negative effects including stress, technology anxiety or depression (Perlusz, 2004). In the domains of music, advertising and film, scholars identify that positive and negative emotions can be experienced simultaneously (Andrade and Cohen, 2007;Hunter et al., 2008;Steinert and Roeser, 2020). Research suggests that goal conflict and multiple values and appraisals are reasons for experiencing mixed emotions (Berrios et al., 2015). ...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose Information Systems research on emotions in relation to using technology largely holds essentialist assumptions about emotions, focuses on negative emotions and treats technology as a token or as a black box, which hinders an in-depth understanding of distinctions in the emotional experience of using artificial intelligence (AI) technology in context. This research focuses on understanding employees' emotional experiences of using an AI chatbot as a specific type of AI system that learns from how it is used and is conversational, displaying a social presence to users. The research questions how and why employees experience emotions when using an AI chatbot, and how these emotions impact its use. Design/methodology/approach An interpretive case study approach and an inductive analysis were adopted for this study. Data were collected through interviews, documents review and observation of use. Findings The study found that employee appraisals of chatbots were influenced by the form and functional design of the AI chatbot technology and its organisational and social context, resulting in a wider repertoire of appraisals and multiple emotions. In addition to positive and negative emotions, users experienced connection emotions. The findings show that the existence of multiple emotions can encourage continued use of an AI chatbot. Originality/value This research extends information systems literature on emotions by focusing on the lived experiences of employees in their actual use of an AI chatbot, while considering its characteristics and its organisational and social context. The findings inform the emerging literature on AI.
... Emotion theories have also shown that individuals may experience different emotions concurrently, which is a phenomenon called emotional ambivalence. These different emotions may be contradictory in terms of valence or action tendency (Andrade and Cohen, 2007;Williams and Aaker, 2002). The experience of emotional ambivalence can have particular effects on innovation adoption, depending on how emotional conflict inherent to the experience of ambivalence is resolved (see Section 2.4, emotion regulation) and/or the type of emotion having the greatest influence on decision-making. ...
Article
Full-text available
The dominant models of innovation adoption have traditionally overlooked the role of emotions, despite the relevance of this construct in consumer decision-making. To address this historical gap, a notable stream of research on emotions in innovation adoption has emerged in recent years. To enrich our understanding of the psychology of innovation adoption, this paper integrates insights from research on emotions in psychology with a systematic review of the literature on consumer emotions in innovation adoption. Drawing on well-established theories of emotions and decision-making, we derive five fundamental dimensions that help define the role of emotions in the consumer adoption of innovations. A systematic review of existing evidence within the specific field of innovation adoption summarises the existing evidence through the lens of the five dimensions. The contributions of the paper are twofold. First, the paper offers a novel perspective that provides a deeper understanding of emotions as a psychological mechanism enabling or impeding innovation adoption. Second, we set an agenda for invigorating research in this important domain.
Article
Background : Young people in their teens and twenties don’t seek treatment immediately for mental health issues. This is due to the perceived stigma linked to mental health, pragmatic inconveniences to reach clinical settings, and the tediousness to seek help or engage with adults in traditional ways. Alternative approaches aside from drugs administration are needed. Method : We conducted an internet-delivered pilot randomized controlled trial directed to Hikikomori and Futōkō experienced subjects. This study aimed to understand the difference in efficacy for an intervention using a fictional story vs factual scientific information (self-aid texts), as well as the feasibility of an internet delivered program .. Evaluation of emotional transportation and mental health related measures were administered at base line before the program and at one week after the completion of the program. Results : 40 participants were enrolled. A post-intervention (T2) Independent T-student showed that Emotional Transportation was significantly lower for the intervention group than for the control group at T2. Relaxation was significantly higher for the intervention group than for the control group at T2. For the other outcome variables, the difference was not statistically significant. An ANCOVA showed that there was a significant effect of groups on emotional transportation (lower in the intervention group). There was a significant effect of groups on empathy (lower in the intervention group); for the other variables the effects of groups were not detected. Conclusions : The results showed a significant diminishment in emotional transportation and empathy for the interventional group contradicting the hypothesis that an enhancement of emotional transportation mediates the positive mental health effects. A marginal improvement in relaxation in the intervention group (T-test) was found. In the posthoc analysis, the positive effects on the relaxation of pre-intervention (habitual) high emotional status of participants were confirmed. This trial is registered with UMIN , ID UMIN000044204.
Chapter
Full-text available
Media Culture in Transnational Asia: Convergences and Divergences examines contemporary media use within Asia, where over half of the world’s population resides. The book addresses media use and practices by looking at the transnational exchanges of ideas, narratives, images, techniques, and values and how they influence media consumption and production throughout Asia, including Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Korea, Singapore, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iran and many others. The book’s contributors are especially interested in investigating media and their intersections with narrative, medium, technologies, and culture through the lenses that are particularly Asian by turning to Asian sociopolitical and cultural milieus as the meaningful interpretive framework to understand media. This timely and cutting-edge research is essential reading for those interested in transnational and global media studies.
Article
Research on mixed emotions is yet to consider emotion-specificity, the idea that same-valenced emotions have distinctive characteristics and functions. We review two decades of research on mixed emotions, focusing on evidence for the occurrence of mixed emotions and the effects of mixed emotions on downstream outcomes. We then propose a novel theoretical framework of mixed-emotion-specificity with three foundational tenets: (a) Mixed emotions are distinguishable from single-valenced emotions and other mixed emotions based on their emotion-appraisal relationships; (b) Mixed emotions can further be characterized by four patterns that describe relationships between simultaneous appraisals or appraisals that are unique to mixed emotions; and (c) Carryover effects occur only on outcomes that are associated with the appraisal characteristics of mixed emotion. We outline how mixed-emotion-specific effects can be predicted based on the appraisal tendency framework. Temporal dynamics, the application of mixed-emotion-specificity to individual difference research, methodological issues, and future directions are also discussed.
Article
Full-text available
Evaluative processes refer to the operations by which organisms discriminate threatening from nurturant environments. Low activation of positive and negative evaluative processes by a stimulus reflects neutrality, whereas high activation of such processes reflects maximal conflict. Attitudes, an important class of manifestations of evaluative processes, have traditionally been conceptualized as falling along a bipolar dimension, and the positive and negative evaluative processes underlying attitudes have been conceptualized as being reciprocally activated, making the bipolar rating scale the measure of choice. Research is reviewed suggesting that this bipolar dimension is insufficient to portray comprehensively positive and negative evaluative processes and that the question is not whether such processes are reciprocally activated but under what conditions they are reciprocally, nonreciprocally, or independently activated. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
In the article by S. Schachter and J. Singer, which appeared in Psychological Review (1962, 69(5), 379-399) the following corrections should be made: The superscript "a" should precede the word "All" in the footnote to Table 2. The superscript "a" should appear next to the column heading "Initiates" in Table 3. The following Tables 6-9 should be substituted for those which appeared in print. (The following abstract of this article originally appeared in record 196306064-001.) It is suggested that emotional states may be considered a function of a state of physiological arousal and of a cognition appropriate to this state of arousal. From this follows these propositions: (a) Given a state of physiological arousal for which an individual has no immediate explanation, he will label this state and describe his feelings in terms of the cognitions available to him. (b) Given a state of physiological arousal for which an individual has a completely appropriate explanation, no evaluative needs will arise and the individual is unlikely to label his feelings in terms of the alternative cognitions available. (c) Given the same cognitive circumstances, the individual will react emotionally or describe his feelings as emotions only to the extent that he experiences a state of physiological arousal. An experiment is described which, together with the results of other studies, supports these propositions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).
Article
A field study investigated the role of type of helping task in the previously observed relationship between feeling good and helping. Results indicated that procedures designed to induce good mood are likely to facilitate helping only where the helping task is not incompatible with the good feeling state. Implications for the mediation of the relationship between good mood and helping are discussed.
Article
Individual differences in emotional reactivity or affective style can be decomposed into more elementary constituents. Several separable of affective style are identified such as the threshold for reactivity, peak amplitude of response, the rise time to peak and the recovery time. latter two characteristics constitute components of affective chronometry The circuitry that underlies two fundamental forms of motivation and and withdrawal-related processes-is described. Data on differences in functional activity in certain components of these are next reviewed, with an emphasis on the nomological network of surrounding individual differences in asymmetric prefrontal The relevance of such differences for understanding the nature affective dysfunction in affective disorders is then considered. The ends by considering what the prefrontal cortex “does” in certain of affective style and highlights some of the important questions for future research.
Article
This study examines mixed feelings of amusement and disgust. Participants (N=102) reported their affect before and after watching a film clip depicting disgusting humour. While watching the clip participants were instructed to take the perspective of either an uninvolved observer or of the clip's protagonist. As expected this clip produced mixed feelings of amusement and disgust, and perspective moderated changes in affect and mixed feelings. Disgust increased equally in both conditions and amusement increased only in the observer condition. As a result mixed feelings of amusement and disgust were more intense in the observer condition. As the first study to demonstrate moderation of mixed feelings, this work adds to the extant literature on mixed feelings and has implications for emotion research.