Nuanced aesthetic emotions: emotion differentiation is related to knowledge of the arts and curiosity

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 )
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Abstract: The ability to distinguish between emotions is considered indicative of well-being, but does emotion differentiation (ED) in an aesthetic context also reflect deeper and more knowledgeable aesthetic experiences? Here we examine whether positive and negative ED in response to artistic stimuli reflects higher fluency in an aesthetic domain. Particularly, we test whether knowledge of the arts and curiosity are associated with more fine-grained positive and negative aesthetic experiences. A sample of 214 people rated their positive and negative feelings in response to various artworks including positive and negative themes. Positive ED was associated with the embracing sub-trait of curiosity that reflects engagement and enjoyment of novelty and complexity, but was unrelated to artistic knowledge and perceived comprehension. Negative ED was associated with higher curiosity and particularly more knowledge of the arts. This relationship was mediated by appraised comprehension suggesting that deeper engagement with art, by those with more art knowledge, is associated with more fine-grained emotional experiences. This finding extends ED beyond well-being research and suggests that more nuanced emotional experiences are more likely for those with expertise in the arts and motivation for exploration.

Additional Information

Cognition and Emotion, 32(3), 593-599
Language: English
Date: 2017
Emotion differentiation, aesthetic emotions, art knowledge, curiosity, artistic expertise

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