Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 19–38 | Cite as

A quantitative-experiential analysis of human emotions

  • Donald D. Price
  • James E. Barrell
  • James J. Barrell


A study was carried out in which participants provided written first-person present-tense descriptions of experiences of ordinary human emotions and visual analogue scale responses to intensities of desire, expectation, and positive or negative emotional feeling that were present during these experiences. Functional interrelationships found in this analysis could be described by the general equations (1) Feeling intensity=K1Desire+K2Desire×expectations5 for positive approach goals and (2) Feeling intensity=K1Desire×K2Desire×expectation2.0 for negative avoidance goals. Both equations have the same general form and indicate that desire and expectation have a multiplicative interaction with respect to their effects on emotional feeling intensity. Furthermore, when combined with consideration of the intentions, meanings, and body sensations present during common emotions, these factors and their interrelationships can help characterize emotions of satisfaction, excitement, anxiety, frustration, and depression. This characterization provides the basis for an experiential theory of human emotions.


Visual Analogue Scale Social Psychology Analogue Scale General Equation Scale Response 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Donald D. Price
    • 1
  • James E. Barrell
    • 2
  • James J. Barrell
    • 3
  1. 1.Medical College of VirginiaUSA
  2. 2.University of TennesseeUSA
  3. 3.West Georgia CollegeUSA

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