, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 105-124

Constructions of emotion: Discrepancy, arousal, and mood

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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.

The research and preparation of this report were supported by a grant from the Spencer Foundation. We are grateful to Carol Beards, Barbara Lagana, and Jeffrey McIntosh for assistance in data collection and data analysis. Special thanks go to Mark Wallen for programming Rogue and much of the data analysis.