Emotion, Motivation, and
A Feeling-Is-for-Doing Approach
MARCEL ZEELENBERG, ROB NELISSEN,
and RIK PIETERS
nyone who has ever made an important life decision—about a partner,
house, career, investment, and so forth—knows that intuition plays an
important role therein. Even though people may be aware of the fact
that they should make important decisions in a rational, consequential manner,
and even if they try hard to do so, the reality is that when making these choices
and decisions, people are often overwhelmed by preferences toward some of the
options that they cannot easily verbalize. For example, when buying a house, the
rst impression of the house seems to be crucial. These rst intuitive impressions
are often based on people’s initial emotional response, which does not require
extensive cognitive deliberation. If it doesn’t feel right, the chances are slim that a
person acts on it. When the click is there, however, that person is easily prepared
to overspend on it. This chapter reviews some of the emotional processes that play
a role during decision processes and delineates how emotions may operate in an
intuitive manner. For more general reviews of the role of affect and emotion in
decision making, we refer the reader to Finucane, Peters, and Slovic (2003); Isen
(2000); Ketelaar (2004, 2006); Loewenstein and Lerner (2003); and Pieters and
Van Raaij (1988).
A core premise in this chapter is that emotional processes form at least part of
the intuitional component of decision making (cf. T. Betsch, chap. 1, this volume).
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ZEELENBERG, NELISSEN, PIETERS174
We conceptualize emotions as motivational processes that prioritize certain goals
and thereby mobilize and give direction to behavior (cf., Bagozzi, Baumgartner,
Pieters, & Zeelenberg, 2000; Frijda, 1988, 2006; Nelissen, Dijker, & De Vries,
2007a & b). This emotional inuence may take place via conscious experience but
may also occur more or less automatically. Put differently, we argue that emotions
can implicitly activate associated goals that manifest themselves behaviorally. This
motivational part of emotional experience has been relatively understudied.
In the remainder of this chapter, we rst illuminate the nature of affect and of
emotion. Next, we argue that to understand the effect of affect on decision mak-
ing, one has to go beyond valence and study the effects of specic emotions. We
then review different approaches to studying the effects of specic emotions and
show how these relate to different elements of the emotional experience. We end
with proposing a research agenda including issues that should be considered in
research on emotion in decision making.
THE NATURE OF AFFECT
Affect is a generic term that refers to many experiential concepts including
moods, emotions, attitudes, evaluations, and preferences. The dening feature is
the valence dimension. Valence is a term borrowed from physics and chemistry
(Solomon & Stone, 2002), and it refers to the positivity or negativity of an experi-
ence. Thus, any experiential concept that is valanced can be considered affective.
The valence dimension is a fundamental one with respect to many psychological
experiences (Osgood, Suci, & Tannenbaum, 1957; Russell, 1980). It is obvious that
decision scientists have a strong interest in affect because the valence aspect of
affect is so easily related to utility. Positive affect creates utility (or satisfaction)
and negative affect creates disutility (or dissatisfaction; e.g., Mellers, Schwartz, &
Ritov, 1999). Freud (1920/1952) even argued that “our entire psychical activity is
bent upon procuring pleasure and avoiding pain” (p. 365). Thus, affect refers to
positivity and negativity, to goodness and badness, to pleasantness and unpleasant-
ness, favorability and unfavorability, and pleasure and pain. Affect is sometimes
used as a synonym for emotion, but this is not only incorrect (emotions are affec-
tive, but not all affect is emotion) but also hinders progress into one’s insight into
the role of emotion in decision making as becomes apparent in the next sections.
THE NATURE OF EMOTION
The exact denition of emotion has been a matter of dispute among psycholo-
gists, philosophers, and other researchers (Kleinginna & Kleinginna, 1981) mainly
because of the wide array of possible emotions that one can experience (guilt,
shame, regret, disappointment, envy, gloating, anger, fear, joy, pride, to name only
a few) and because there is no dening characteristic that applies to all emotions.
However, there is agreement on several aspects. Emotions are acute; they are rela-
tively momentary experiences. This differentiates emotions from moods, which
typically last longer, and from other more general affects. Emotions are about
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FEELING IS FOR DOING 175
something or someone: You are angry with someone; you regret a choice, and so
forth. Emotions typically arise when one evaluates an event or outcome as relevant
for one’s concerns or preferences. One does not become emotional over something
trivial. Moreover, emotions are “cognitively impenetrable”: One cannot choose to
have or not have emotions given certain events or outcomes that are relevant for
one’s concerns (Frijda, 1986, p. 468).
Emotions have multiple components, and they can be differentiated from each
other on the basis of these. One of these components is the appraisal pattern that
gives rise to the emotion. Appraisal refers to the process of judging the signicance
of an event for personal well-being. Appraisal theory (for a review, see Scherer,
Schorr, & Johnstone, 2001), the dominant approach in emotion research, maintains
that specic emotions are associated with specic patterns of cognitive appraisals
of the emotion-eliciting situation. People may differ in the specic appraisals that
are elicited by a particular event, but the same patterns of appraisals always give
rise to the same emotions. An understanding of appraisals is important because it
may help researchers to understand why specic emotions arise and hence provide
a solid theoretical basis for emotion manipulation. Research on appraisal processes,
however, remains relatively mute when it comes to predicting behavior (Frijda &
The other components of emotion that we address here are more closely linked
to behavior. Together, these components comprise the experiential content of the
emotion. Basic emotion research on experiential content (Davitz, 1969; Roseman,
Wiest, & Swartz, 1994; Wallbott & Scherer, 1988) has investigated a wide range of
characteristics to differentiate emotions. Roseman et al. (1994) proposed that emo-
tions could be differentiated in terms of the following ve experiential categories:
feelings, thoughts, action tendencies, actions, and emotivational goals. Feelings
are perceived physical or mental sensations. Thoughts are ideas, plans, concep-
tions, or opinions produced by mental activity. Action tendencies are impulses or
inclinations to respond with a particular action. Actions include behavior that may
or may not be purposive. Emotivational goals describe the goals that accompany
discrete emotions (wanting to avoid danger in case of fear or wanting to recover
from loss in case of sadness). These emotivational goals are similar to what Frijda
has referred to as “changes in patterns of action readiness” (p. 351; Frijda, 1986,
2006). Action readiness refers to motivational states that may involve attentional
focusing, arousal, muscular preparation, or actual action, goal priority, or felt read-
iness. Action readiness is dened by having control precedence, which means that
it may overrule other goals. Many emotions can be differentiated in terms of action
The experiential content of an emotion thus reects how emotions are felt and
what emotions mean to the person experiencing them; it is the real emotional
experience. Specic appraisals elicit specic emotions with specic experiential
contents. In the recently developed feeling-is-for-doing approach, Zeelenberg and
Pieters (2006) reserved a special role for the experiential content of emotions and
for the motivational aspect that is part of it. We have proposed that this experi-
ential content is the proximal cause of all that follows, including specic adaptive
behavior. Knowing the experiential content of an emotion therefore implies
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ZEELENBERG, NELISSEN, PIETERS176
knowledge of the motivations that arise during this experience. For example,
when one realizes that the experience of anger in consumers goes with feelings
like exploding, thoughts of unfairness and violence, and tendencies to let go and
behave aggressively, it simply follows that these consumers are motivated to retali-
ate (Bougie, Pieters, & Zeelenberg, 2003). This knowledge allows researchers to
make specic behavioral predictions. We return to this later, but rst, we turn to
how emotion is related to decision making.
EMOTION AND DECISION MAKING: THE
NEED TO GO BEYOND VALENCE
It goes without saying that emotion plays a large role in decision making. Early theo-
rists have recognized this, and have discussed it in quite some detail (Bentham,
1789/1948; Jevons, 1871/1965; A. Smith, 1759/1976). Despite this early interest, how-
ever, emotion never really made it into decision research. This was partly due to the
fact that emotion was seen as intrinsically unstable and unpredictable and partly
because it could not be measured objectively. Jevons (1871/1965), for example, stated
“I hesitate to say that men will ever have the means of measuring directly the feel-
ings of the human heart” (p. 11). Thus, although there never was any denial of the
inuence of emotions, it needs to be stressed that the early observations of A. Smith
(1759/1976) and his contemporaries were not followed up empirically. The two early
limitations, unpredictability and immeasurability, have been removed since then.
The impact of emotion on behavior is actually simpler and more systematic than
previously thought. First, emotions can be measured reliably in various verbal (e.g.,
via rating scales) and nonverbal ways (e.g., via Facial Action Coding System or facial
Larsen & Fredrickson, 1999; Parrott & Hertel, 1999). Moreover, the number of dis-
tinct emotions is fairly limited (compared to a virtual endless amount of cognitions),
and they behave lawfully (Frijda, 1988, 2006). Hence, clear, electromyography, sta-
ble, and predictable consequences and correlates of emotion exist.
Consequently, there is a renewed interest in the role of emotion in decision
behavior from both economists and psychologists. In this current decision research
(as in many elds outside core emotion theory), however, emotions are often con-
ceptualized as valenced feeling states. That is, emotions are often equated with
affect and reduced to a value on a positive–negative dimension. Positive emotions
are thought to add utility, and negative emotions subtract utility. Decision making
then comes down to “hedonic calculus” in which pain and pleasure are summed,
and the net best alternative is picked (see also, Jevons, 1871/1965). Cabanac (1992)
argued that emotions can be compared in terms of pleasure, and he referred to this
as a “common currency.” Also, in Mellers et al.’s (1999) “subjective expected plea-
sure theory,” counterfactual emotions (regret, disappointment, elation, rejoicing,
and surprise) are expressed via a single “pain–pleasure” dimension.
Such a one-dimensional, valence-based approach falls short for several reasons
(see, for a more elaborate discussion, Zeelenberg & Pieters, 2006). First, not all
negative emotions have the same effect as we review later. Second, some emotions
are difcult to place on the positive–negative dimension (are pride, schadenfreude,
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FEELING IS FOR DOING 177
relief, and hope unequivocally positive or negative emotions?). We thus argue that
especially when one is interested in motivational and intuitive processes in deci-
sion making, a focus on the mere valence of emotions is insufcient. We came
to this conviction based on a number of reasons, aptly summarized by Solomon
and Stone (2002). These emotion philosophers (Solomon & Stone, 2002) recently
reviewed the emotion literature and concluded that
The analysis of emotions in terms of “valence,” while it recognizes some-
thing essential about emotions . . . is an idea that we should abandon and
leave behind. It serves no purpose but confusion and perpetrates the worst
old stereotypes about emotion, that these are simple phenomena unworthy of
serious research and analysis. (p. 431)
Thus, when interested in how emotions inuence behavioral decision making,
a focus on specic emotions is clearly required. Luckily, this has been realized by
a number of decision researchers. We review their efforts following.
DIFFERENT APPROACHES TO EMOTION SPECIFICITY
Studies that have revealed the differential impact of specic emotions are accumu-
lating, and several perspectives that account for these inuences begin to emerge.
We consider them in detail, but rst, we want to make clear that for our current
purposes, we are only concerned with the direct impact of specic experienced
emotions. Thus, we do not discuss the inuence of expected or anticipated emo-
tions, although they prove a valuable extension to traditional expected-utility mod-
els of decision making (e.g., Mellers et al., 1999; Van der Pligt, Zeelenberg, Van
Dijk, De Vries, & Richard, 1998). Neither do we discuss indirect effects of emotion
on decision making, although it has been shown that emotions may bias people’s
judgments via the selective recall of similarly valenced memories (e.g., Bower,
1981) and by inuencing the depth (i.e., heuristic or systematic) of cognitive pro-
cessing (e.g., Tiedens & Linton, 2001). Our focus is on those instances in which
specic emotions exert a direct impact on behavioral decisions that is not medi-
ated by changes in the nature and content of basic cognitive processes. Hence, we
highlight the more intuitive side of emotional inuences on decisions.
Emotions and emotional inuences can be either endogenous or exogenous
(cf. Zeelenberg & Pieters, 2006). This distinction is consistent with the general
role that factors can play in causal processes. We refer to emotions as endogenous
when the experience is relevant to the decision at hand and an integral part of the
goal-setting and goal-striving process. For example, the anxiety experienced when
deliberating a risky choice or the regret experienced over an earlier investment
when determining whether to invest further are endogenous. Likewise, the anger
about goal frustration is endogenous. Exogenous emotions or emotional inuences,
on the other hand, are those that are not related to a current decision and are
external to the actual goal-setting and goal-striving process, although they may—
exogenously—inuence this. They constitute the carryover effects of emotions or
mood states resulting from a prior experience, such as watching a happy or a sad
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ZEELENBERG, NELISSEN, PIETERS178
movie, on subsequent unrelated decisions. Thus, an endogenous emotion is part of
current goal pursuit, whereas an exogenous emotion comes from outside, and its
effects may “steam through” current goal pursuit. The distinction between endog-
enous and exogenous emotions is important, as it may determine the extent to
which ndings on emotional inuences are relevant to theoretical accounts of such
effects as we outlined following.
Perspectives on the direct inuence of specic experienced emotions on deci-
sion making fall into either of two categories, although both are not necessarily
mutually exclusive. They differ in whether they emphasize the informational or
the motivational properties of emotions (Zeelenberg & Pieters, 2006). We argue
for the superior suitability of motivational perspectives in accounting for effects of
emotions on decision making and propose a research agenda to further theorizing
on the emotional inuences in decision-making processes.
These accounts highlight the nature of inferences that people in a particular emo-
tional state are likely to draw. They emphasize the backward looking function of
emotions highlighting the cues that emotions give about past goal performance
and/or the conduciveness of the state of the world or current and future goal pur-
suit. Information-based accounts zoom in on the feedback function of emotions.
Generally, they predict emotional inuences in case of commonality between the
central appraisal dimensions associated with the emotion and the principal dimen-
sion of judgment involved in a particular choice situation. Two major information-
based perspectives have been outlined, the appraisal tendency approach (Lerner &
Keltner, 2000, 2001), and the emotion as information model (DeSteno, Petty,
Wegener, & Rucker, 2000).
The latter account in particular is heavily grounded in the seminal bodies of
research that have indicated affect-congruent inuences on judgment, initiated
by Johnson and Tversky (1983) and Schwarz and Clore (1983). Affect congruency
means that people use their feelings as a cue to infer the general state of the world,
considering the world as a place where good things are likely to happen when in
a positive mood or conversely, anticipating negative events when feeling bad. This
mechanism became known as the “How-do-I-feel-about-it”—heuristic (Schwarz,
1990) The more recently proposed affect heuristic that refers to the fact that deci-
sion makers may simply use their intuitive affective reaction toward an object or
behavior as input for their choices is another example of affect congruency (Slovic,
Finucane, Peters, & MacGregor, 2002).
DeSteno et al. (2000) showed that such mood-induced biases in likelihood esti-
mations extend to specic emotions as well, thus indicating increased likelihood
estimates for events with similar “emotional overtones.” For instance, inducing
sadness (but not anger) increased the estimated frequency of saddening events
(e.g., the number of people that will nd out their best friend is moving away),
whereas inducing anger (but not sadness) had similar effects for angering events
(e.g., the number of criminals that will be set free because of legal technicalities).
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FEELING IS FOR DOING 179
The appraisal tendency approach (Lerner & Keltner, 2000) also emphasizes
the informational function of emotions. The appraisal tendency approach conceives
that each emotion activates a tendency to evaluate future events in line with the
central dimensions of the appraisal that triggered the emotion. These appraisal
tendencies thus are perceptual inclinations by which emotions color the cognitive
interpretation of stimuli.
Support for the appraisal tendency approach initially derived from ndings that
indicated that anger increases tendencies to perceive other individuals as respon-
sible for subsequent events, whereas sadness increases the tendency to ascribe
responsibility to the environment (Keltner, Ellsworth, & Edwards, 1993). These
patterns are consistent with the underlying appraisal patterns of sadness (situation
responsible for negative outcomes) and anger (others responsible). Further support
comes from a series of studies in which dispositional and situationally induced dif-
ferences in people’s experiences of fear and anger have been found to be associated
with differences in risk perception (Lerner & Keltner, 2000, 2001). Fear and anger
differ in their appraisals of control and certainty, which are low in fear and high
in anger. Perceptions of risk depend mainly on people’s estimates of their abili-
ties to exert personal control in a particular situation and a sense of predictability
(i.e., certainty) over the outcome of that situation. When afraid, people make more
pessimistic judgments of risk (i.e., estimating the number of casualties due to vari-
ous events) than people who are angry. Moreover, fear was also associated with
preferences for risk-averse options, whereas anger was associated with risk-seeking
preferences (Lerner & Keltner, 2001).
Taken together, both the emotion-as-information model and the appraisal ten-
dency approach provide accounts for emotional inuences on people’s judgments,
with the latter framework providing more encompassing and detailed predictions,
as it relates emotions to a wider array of cognitive dimensions involved in judg-
mental processes. It is important to note that the information-based accounts take
a backward looking stance with respect to goal progress. That is, emotions pro-
vide information about how one is currently doing. This affective feedback informs
about the extent of goal progress, but does not provide the decision maker with
clear guidelines for how to attain these goals in the future. Before evaluating the
suitability of information-based frameworks in accounting for the impact of emo-
tions on behavioral decision making in greater detail, we rst introduce studies
that have adopted a goal-based account to explain emotional inuences.
These accounts stress the implicit goals for action that are associated with an emo-
tion to explain its inuences on decisions. They emphasize the forward-looking
function of emotions. That is, goal-based accounts focus on the goal setting and
striving implications of emotions, which are by denition future oriented. Gener-
ally, they predict emotions to guide decisions in the direction of the outcome that
is (most) conducive to the attainment of the emotional goal. In earlier research, the
emotional impact on behavior has hardly ever been considered to be a goal-directed
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ZEELENBERG, NELISSEN, PIETERS180
process but rather has been viewed as an accidental consequence of the operation
of the emotion system (Johnson & Tversky, 1983; Schwarz & Clore, 1983). The
mood maintenance hypothesis (Isen & Patrick, 1983) presents a notable excep
tion. This hypothesis holds that when in a positive mood, people are motivated to
maintain their feeling state, whereas a negative mood instigates efforts of mood
repair, for instance, by motivating prosocial acts, which often result in positive
affect (Schaller & Cialdini, 1990). Current goal-based perspectives on emotional
inuences on decision making have moved beyond a valence-based account to fur-
ther understand the impact of specic emotions.
Several researchers have explicitly adopted this approach in documenting and
explaining the inuence of specic emotions on people’s decisions. Note that the
following studies (unless explicitly mentioned otherwise) all have reported effects
of exogeneous emotional inuences, a point that we address further in the subse-
Fessler, Pillsworth, and Flamson (2004) investigated the impact of anger and
disgust on preferences for gambles. Fessler et al. found that disgust decreased but
anger increased risk taking. Fessler et al. referred to the different implicit goals
associated with anger and disgust to account for this. Specically, Fessler et al.
argued that disgust decreases risk-taking behavior because it motivates avoidance
of contact. Anger, on the other hand, increased risk taking because retaliation
requires to a certain extent the neglect of risk.
Raghunathan and Pham (1999) investigated the impact of fear and sadness on
risk preference in choices between gambles and job options. Raghunathan and
Pham predicted (and found) that fear, which they argued is associated with a goal
to reduce uncertainty, decreased preference for risky options. Sadness, however,
caused the opposite effect. The latter is explained by suggesting that sadness involves
an implicit goal of reward replacement, inducing a tendency to favor options with
highly rewarding outcomes.
Lerner, Small, and Loewenstein (2004) studied the differential impact of sadness
and disgust on the endowment effect (the nding that selling prices exceed buying
prices for the same object). It was found that compared to a neutral control condition
in which the traditional endowment effect was replicated, buying and selling prices
did not differ anymore after disgust was induced. Inducing sadness even caused
a complete reversal of the endowment effect (i.e., buying prices exceeding selling
prices). Rather than relying on differences in appraisal tendencies, Lerner et al.
proposed a goal-based mechanism to underlie these results. Specically, triggering
the implicit goal to expel or avoid taking in (cf. Rozin, Haidt, & McCauley, 1993),
disgust was hypothesized to reduce both selling and buying prices, respectively.
Zeelenberg and Pieters (1999, 2004) have compared behavioral consequences of
experienced regret and disappointment in relation to failed services. Hence, these
studies concerned the impact of endogeneous emotional inuences. Zeelenberg
and Pieters (1999) argued that such negative experiences can cause both disap-
pointment (when service delivery falls short of prior expectancies) and regret (after
a bad choice of service providers). Zeelenberg and Pieters (2004) asked consumers
to recollect negative experiences with service providers and to subsequently report
their feelings and behaviors in response to this encounter. Across the studies,
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FEELING IS FOR DOING 181
Zeelenberg and Pieters (YEAR) found different reactions following the experience
of regret and disappointment. Regret was most clearly associated with switching
service providers; and disappointment was also associated with negative word-of-
mouth communication switching and complaining to the provider.
Finally, specic emotional inuences on decisions in social dilemmas have
been investigated. Social dilemmas typically model interactions between two or
more people involving a motivational conict between a decision to do what is best
for the group (i.e., to cooperate) or to do what is best for oneself (i.e., to defect).
Several studies have documented guilt inductions to increase the amount of coop-
erative decisions in ultimatum games (Ketelaar & Au, 2003) and prisoner dilemma
games (Ketelaar & Au, 2003; Nelissen, Dijker, & De Vries, 2007-b). These effects
have been explained by referring to the implicit goal of making-up for transgres-
sion (Nelissen et al., 2007-b), which is associated with guilt (cf. Roseman et al.,
1994), or by addressing guilt’s theorized status as a moral emotion (cf. Frank, 2004)
that inhibits tendencies to pursue immediate self-interest (Ketelaar & Au, 2003).
Finally, fear, associated with a goal to avoid risk, was found to reduce cooperation
in a prisoner dilemma game, hence instigating players to make a less risky decision
(Nelissen et al., 2007-b). Note that the latter study also reported interactive effects
of emotion induction and social value orientations, which we turn to later.
EVALUATING INFORMATION- AND
A strict information-based perspective falls short of providing a strong account of
emotional inuences on decision making. First of all, the information-based per-
spective cannot adequately accommodate certain empirical ndings. For instance,
the effects of disgust and sadness on the endowment effect (Lerner et al., 2004)
do not readily follow from considering the appraisal dimensions associated with
both emotions. Disgust is characterized by appraisals of high certainty, human
control, other responsibility, and a strong unwillingness to attend to the situation
(C. A. Smith & Ellsworth, 1985). Nevertheless, it is not apparent how a tendency to
appraise the situation along these dimensions causes a reduction of the endowment
effect, that is, a reduction of selling prices, in particular. Similarly, it seems unclear
how appraising a situation in terms of high situational control and moderate levels
of certainty (as associated with sadness) would reverse the endowment effect.
Second, other empirical ndings appear to contradict predictions of an
information-based approach. Based on the appraisal tendency approach, similar
effects would have been expected for emotions with similar appraisals. Both
anger and disgust are associated with equal levels of certainty and perceived control
(C. A. Smith & Ellsworth, 1985). Nevertheless, anger and disgust have differential
effects on risk preferences (Fessler et al., 2004). Furthermore, sadness was found to
increase rather than decrease preferences for high-risk alternatives (Raghunathan &
Pham, 1999). This is odd given that sadness is primarily related to appraisals of high
situational control and moderate levels of certainty, which should, in an informa-
tion-based perspective, have led to reduced preference for high-risk enterprises.
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ZEELENBERG, NELISSEN, PIETERS182
Clearly, one may argue that rather than a feedback effect, emotions here had a
feed-forward effect, setting goals for future pursuit rather than following the
appraisals contained in experienced emotions that resulted from past events.
Third and nally, closer inspection at a theoretical level reveals that information-
based accounts are more apt at accounting for judgment effects than at decision-
making effects and related goal pursuits. That is, emotions clearly color or bias
judgments. Such almost automatic appraisal tendency effects of emotions have
been well documented. Yet, interestingly, in these studies, the emotion is the end
of a goal pursuit sequence or exogenously induced, and this was followed by a
moment in which judgments were called for, and the latter were obviously colored
by the former. Thus, when goal pursuit ends (or did not yet initiate), and an emo
tion is still activated, it inuences judgment in an appraisal-consistent fashion. Yet,
when the emotion is part of a sequence of ongoing goal pursuit, such “appraisal
consistency” effects are much less obvious. Then, one needs to know the overarch
ing goal of people and the activated emotion to predict future behavior, as we
showed earlier. Motivational perspectives, by emphasizing the implicit goals asso-
ciated with current feeling states instead of foregrounding inferential processes,
provide this link.
Sometimes integration is advocated for the informational and motivational
functions of emotions into a single model, arguing “affective states [to] convey not
only situational appraisal information, but also motivational information” (Pham,
2004, p. 363). Similarly, in its original formulation, the appraisal tendency approach
was claimed to encompass not only cognitive-appraisal theories but also functional
views of emotions, delineating the regulating role of emotions in shaping behavioral
responses (Lerner & Keltner, 2000). Yet both assertions overlook that inference
(backward looking for meaning of past states) and motivation (forward looking for
desirable end states) are fundamentally distinct processes that require independent
demonstration and that neither of both automatically implies the other. In other
words, as we have tried to demonstrate, activation of appraisal tendencies cannot
simply be equated with the activation of goals for action. Hence, suggesting that
emotions cause different situational inferences and as a result will induce different
goals (Pham, 2004), constitutes too big a leap in the face of current data.
It is not our intention to contest the idea that emotions have at the same time
an informational and a motivational component—they do. Nor do we contradict
the assertion that both can be meaningfully related as has already been noted
by Frijda (1988, 2006) when discussing the “laws of emotion.” As such, we nd
ourselves supportive to (future) attempts at integrating motivational and informa-
tional effects of emotions into a single framework. In our opinion, however, such
attempts are still too premature, especially as both informational and motivational
perspectives still await further validation themselves.
In sum, not only do certain research ndings contradict predictions from infor
mational accounts; such perspectives also seem to lack sufciency and capability
to explain reported effects of emotional states on decision making. These accounts
seem to be better suited to explain the effect of emotion on cognitive procession.
Goal-based accounts seem to be more appropriate for investigating the ways in
which emotions impact the behavioral decisions people make. This is not to say that
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FEELING IS FOR DOING 183
present research adopting a motivational perspective is awless. We therefore, in
the next section, present a research agenda addressing several issues that must be
considered in future research investigating behavioral consequences of emotions.
TESTING GOAL-BASED ACCOUNTS: A
As we argued earlier, goal-based perspectives to account for the effects of emo-
tions are recent, and researchers are just beginning to understand how emotions
work. Zeelenberg and Pieters (2006) only recently presented a rst version of
their feeling-is-for-doing account of emotions. This premature version should be
handled with care. This is what was proposed: When considering the potential
impact of emotion on behavioral decisions, one should take seriously the fact that
people may experience a whole range of different emotions, each with its idio-
syncratic experiential content and associated goals. We think that this variety of
feeling states exists for the sake of behavioral guidance. The specic emotion felt
in a situation indicates a particular problem and prioritizes behavior that deals
with this problem. Because different problems require different solutions, differ-
ent emotions produce different behaviors. If one ignores emotion specicity, one
would, for example, predict similar effects for regret and disappointment because
both emotions have a negative valence. The feeling-is-for-doing approach predicts,
therefore, differential effects for regret and disappointment and for guilt and
shame and fear and anger and many other emotions that share the same valence.
In addition, we expect that the same specic emotion in different situations may
activate different behaviors depending on the overarching goal that people strive
to. Thus, specic emotions, because of the specic meaning they convey to the
decision maker, may help one to better understand the goals and motivations of
the decision makers and hence predict better the specic behaviors the decision
makers engage in or refrain from.
In this nal section, we continue where Zeelenberg and Pieters (2006) ended,
and we point out four criteria for an adequate motivational account of emotions.
First, a more systematic approach to assigning goals to emotions is needed. Con-
sider, for example, the subtle differences between implicit goals that are alleg-
edly associated with the same emotion in several of the previously cited studies.
Whereas Raghunathan and Pham (1999) declared fear to be associated with a goal
to reduce uncertainty, Nelissen et al. (2007-b) stated that fear is associated with
the goal of avoiding personal risks (to which uncertainty reduction would be a con-
comitant). Similarly, guilt is argued to relate to a tendency to disregard one’s imme-
diate self-interest (Ketelaar & Au, 2003), which would be an implicit consequence
of repairing for transgression (e.g., Nelissen et al., 2007-b). Much would be lost if
goal accounts are invoked post hoc to account for patterns of ndings, consistent
with some but not other aims of people, rather than a priori to design the appropri-
ate experimental and control conditions to test them.
If researchers relate goals to emotions in an arbitrary manner across differ-
ent studies, their results will lack comparability. This obstructs the potential for
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ZEELENBERG, NELISSEN, PIETERS184
integrating ndings as would be required to develop a substantial body of support
for goal-based hypotheses of emotional effects. Even more problematic, the inter-
pretation of results then acquires a post hoc avor, for goals apparently can be
inferred to match any observed effect of emotions on decision making, giving the
impression that all data may support a goal-based perspective. We therefore sug-
gest that hypotheses should be based on empirically grounded catalogues of emo-
tion-related goals as for instance, provided by Roseman et al. (1994). Naturally, by
adopting similar procedures, goals can be unambiguously ascribed to previously
unstudied emotions (Bougie et al., 2003; Zeelenberg, Van Dijk, Manstead, & Van
der Pligt, 1998). This procedure entails asking people to provide a detailed report
about a particular emotional experience and subsequently, to answer a number of
questions concerning specic feelings, thoughts, action tendencies, actions, and
goals associated with this experience (cf. Roseman et al., 1994).
Second, it bears reiteration that not all feelings are clearly associated with well-
dened goals for action (Frijda, 1986, 1988). Consequently, not all emotions are
equally suitable for testing goal-based hypotheses of emotional inuences on deci-
sion making. To collect meaningful results, behavioral consequences of emotions
that are unambiguously related to a particular goal need to be singled out. More
generally, it may be useful to examine in more detail which emotions are typically
goal directed and which are less so, following the lead of Bagozzi, Baumgartner,
and Pieters (1998). Although seemingly obvious, several of the previously cited
studies have ignored this point by investigating, for instance, the impact of sadness
(e.g., Lerner et al., 2004; Raghunathan & Pham, 1999). Sadness is not unambigu-
ously characterized by a specic goal for action. If anything, it is accompanied
by a loss of motivation, most likely to result in passivity. This does not mean that
sadness has no function, but this function may not be directly related to the regula-
tion of action. Apart from orchestrating behavioral responses, emotions may also
serve communicative and psychological (e.g., learning) purposes. Alternatively, the
inuence of sadness may be more contingent on the specic overarching goal that
people are pursuing than on the goal ingrained in the emotion itself.
The challenges with reports of behavioral consequences of emotions that have
no clearly associated goal for action is that they are also vulnerable to impressions of
post hoc reasoning to make the data match the expectations by implementing dif-
ferent goals on different occasions. Whereas in the endowment-effect study (Lerner
et al., 2004), sadness was argued to induce a goal of changing circumstances, the
impact of sadness on (increased) preferences for risky options (Raghunathan &
Pham, 1999) was explained by attributing a reward-replacement goal to sadness.
Furthermore, reported behavioral effects of emotions that have no clearly
associated action goal are ultimately meaningless when it comes to supporting
a goal-based mechanism. Disappointment in response to failed service encoun-
ters (Zeelenberg & Pieters, 2004), for example, resulted in switching of service
providers, complaining, and negative word of mouth communication. Naturally,
these results outline the importance of considering specic emotions beyond
global dissatisfaction when documenting consumers’ reactions and clearly show
a difference between two negative feelings (i.e., disappointment and regret). Nev-
ertheless, disappointment itself is not associated with a particular goal for action.
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FEELING IS FOR DOING 185
Hence, behavioral effects may be found but it remains unclear to what underlying
goal such responses are aimed at. These ndings, therefore, cannot provide sup-
port for a goal-based mechanism.
Third, it is useful to focus on emotion-decision linkages that are common in
decision-making practices. Highly uncommon or even weird illustrations of linkages
between emotions and decision making may be exciting but less useful to a relevant
theory of decision making. Consider, for example, the nding that disgust appears
to reduce risk preferences (Fessler et al., 2004). Offering a speculative explanation
for this effect, Fessler et al. overlooked that feelings of disgust are uncommon to
say the least under natural circumstances in which individuals make risky decisions.
Hence, an effect may be found, such as making less risky gambles, but how this
bears on the theory of disgust, decision making, or emotions is less transparent.
Indeed, more research is needed on the functional, positive, optimal inuence
of emotions in regular decision making. Although it is by now commonplace to laud
the functionality of emotions for decision making, as a discipline, it seems to be
more attracted to the dark and grim side of emotions, which we personally believe
to be uncommon, rather than to the bright sides that most people experience much
more commonly. As a consequence, researchers know much more about emotional
obstruction than about emotional assistance to optimality. Thus, most research as
yet has emphasized carryover effects of (exogenous) emotions on judgment and
decision making. Often, researchers’ results derive a counterintuitive appeal from
demonstrating erratic consequences and the fallibility of humans. Such ndings,
however, obscure awareness of the functional role emotions play in the decision-
making process. Emotions that are relevant for the choice at hand (e.g., regret over
foregone opportunities, fear about potential outcomes, guilt over earlier misbehav-
ior) clearly show what emotions are and what they are for. They aid the decision
maker by providing quick intuitive cues on how to solve motivational conicts and
ambiguities. Moreover, effects of exogenous emotions that seem erratic at rst can
often be understood if one is aware of the effects of endogenous inuences. One of
the strengths of a goal-based perspective is its potential to determine a priori the
kind of decisions to which a particular emotion is relevant, that is, by considering
how the alternative outcomes help to attain or conversely obstruct the emotional
goal. At the same time, this implies that if an emotion is by no means relevant to
the decision at hand, ndings provide little if no support for the proposed goal-
In sum, the relevance of research ndings for goal-based hypotheses of emo-
tional effects is compromised by (a) tenuous inferences of goals (i.e., a misrep-
resentation of the cause of an observed emotional effect), (b) the lack of goals
(i.e., the inability to specify a cause), and (c) adopting irrelevant outcome measures
(i.e., documenting consequences that cannot be properly related to the cause).
This latter notion is especially relevant to consider when investigating exogenous
effects (i.e., of experimentally induced, hence irrelevant, emotions) and warrants
an increased focus on (potential) endogenous emotional inuences.
Our fourth and nal point concerns the need to move beyond the mere docu-
mentation of behavioral results of emotions to direct tests of the proposed goal-
based mechanism underlying these effects. Although the results from previously
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ZEELENBERG, NELISSEN, PIETERS186
cited studies have demonstrated congruence between observed decisional effects
and emotional goals, this does not conclusively attest for the idea that goal activa-
tion as a result of emotional states causes these effects.
So far, only a single empirical study that we are aware of has indicated a goal-
activation mechanism to be involved in the observed consequences of induced emo-
tional states (Nelissen et al., 2007-b). In this study, Nielsen et al. (2007-b) reported
fear to reduce and guilt to increase cooperation in a prisoner-dilemma interac-
tion. These effects were qualied, however, by a signicant interaction between
the emotional state and an individual’s social value orientation. Specically, fear
only decreased cooperation for prosocials, whereas only guilty proselves showed
increased levels of cooperation. Social value orientations can be understood in
terms of individual variation in the chronic accessibility of situation-relevant goals
for action. Specically, when confronted with a social dilemma, proselves only have
their self-interest in mind and attempt to make as much as possible prot, whereas
prosocials also take the other player’s interest into account. Temporal goal activa-
tion due to an induced emotional state only changes the behavior of individuals to
whom this goal was not already chronically accessible. Hence, fear, inducing a goal
to avoid personal risk, does not affect prosocials, as they are already chronically
motivated to avoid the risk of losing to the other party. Guilt, on the other hand,
associated with an implicit goal to make up for transgressions, inducing a tendency
to cooperate, does not affect prosocials, as they already have the other player’s
interest in mind. These interactions suggest that both emotions and individual dis-
positions operate through the same underlying mechanism of goal accessibility yet
obviously present only an indirect indication thereof. Proceeding along this line,
future studies should directly test whether emotional states are indeed related to
increased goal activity.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
In this chapter, we have reviewed several ways in which theorists have accounted for
the effects of emotion on decision making. We differentiated between information-
based accounts and motivation-based accounts. We argued in favor of motivational
or goal-based accounts because we think that only this account provides a basis for
emotion-specic predictions of behavioral decisions. We refer to this approach as
the feeling-is-for-doing approach. This approach recognizes that the differential
impact of specic emotions occurs via the strong association between emotion
and motivation. Emotions arise when events or outcomes are relevant for one’s
concerns or preferences, and they prioritize behavior that acts in service of these
concerns. As such, emotions can be understood as programs for intuitive decision
making, imposing on the decision maker inclinations for action that, in a given
situation, most adequately serve current strivings. Investigating these dynamics
should further the understanding of both decision processes and the dynamics
of emotional experiences. Put differently, when researchers realize that feeling is
here for the sake of our doing, we also realize that progress in studying the intui-
tive decision maker cannot be made without scrutinizing emotion.
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