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“Tears of joy” and “tears and joy?” personal accounts of dimorphous and mixed expressions of emotion

Abstract

In this investigation two distinct theoretical frameworks were applied to personal accounts of experiencing both smiles and crying, informally referred to as “tears of joy.” Dimorphous theory posits that such expressions arise from a positive or negative appraisal, and a single corresponding emotional experience. In contrast, mixed emotions theoretically arise from simultaneous positive and negative appraisals, positive and negative emotions, which might also culminate in two expressions of emotion. Across three experimental studies participants were exposed to a positive story, or a story with mixed positive and negative aspects. Participants reported on their appraisals, emotions, and personal accounts of their expressions. Explicit, freely-written, and implicit measures, as well as participants’ own explanations for their reported smiling and crying all converged on patterns supporting both dimorphous and mixed expressions of emotion. Data suggest the subjective experience of both “tears of joy” and “tears and joy.”

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Notes

  1. 1.

    For all studies reported in this manuscript, results reported in regard to appraisals and emotions experienced are significant and in the same direction when analyzing the data with only those who reported expressing coupled expressions as well as analyzing the data with the entire sample.

  2. 2.

    An aggregate pathway analysis of the participants across the 3 studies who reported coupled expressions is available in the Supplemental Materials.

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Correspondence to Oriana R. Aragón.

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Aragón, O.R. “Tears of joy” and “tears and joy?” personal accounts of dimorphous and mixed expressions of emotion. Motiv Emot 41, 370–392 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11031-017-9606-x

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Keywords

  • Emotion
  • Dimorphous expression
  • Mixed emotions
  • Emotion expression