Article

Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 105-124

Constructions of emotion: Discrepancy, arousal, and mood

  • Kathleen A. MacDowellAffiliated withCenter for Human Information Processing, University of California, San Diego
  • , George MandlerAffiliated withCenter for Human Information Processing, University of California, San Diego

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Abstract

An interactive adventure-type computer game was used to explore the constructive components of emotional experience — sympathetic nervous system arousal and evaluative cognitions — postulated by discrepancy/evaluation theory. Manipulations of expectations produced significant and large heart rate changes for both positive and negative discrepancies. Autonomic response also reflected the degree of interruption/discrepancy produced by an event. Negatively toned (discrepant) events tended to produce significant intensity and higher overall autonomic arousal. In addition, subjects' intensity of experience was related to their autonomic response.