Exploring alternative deterrents to emotional intensity: Anticipated happiness, distraction, and sadness.

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Paul Silvia, Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/

Abstract: A recent theory of emotional intensity (Brehm, 1999) argues that emotions are functionally identical to motivational states. Like motivational states, the intensity of an emotion should be a joint function of the importance of instigating events and the magnitude of deterrence to the emotion. ?Deterrence? is definable as impediments or forces that interfere with the experience or expression of the emotion— reasons for not feeling what one is feeling. When experiencing an emotion, a person will feel it more intensely as the reasons for not feeling that emotion increase, up to a point. When great enough, the reasons for not feeling the emotion overwhelm it and reduce it to a low level. The deterrents investigated thus far have all involved events whose valence opposes the emotion’s valence. Two experiments explore the breadth of events that have deterrent power. The first was designed to see if merely anticipating an event of opposite valence has a deterrent effect on an emotion. The second explored whether an affectively neutral stimulus (background noise) would also have deterrent effects. The results of the first experiment partially supported the theory, whereas the results of the second provided complete support.

Additional Information

Cognition and Emotion, 15, 575-592
Language: English
Date: 2001
Emotional intensity, Motivational states, Deterrence

Email this document to