Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 327–349 | Cite as

Surprise and Motivation of Causal Search: How Are They Affected by Outcome Valence and Importance?

  • Guido H. E. Gendolla
  • Michael Koller


Two studies investigated whether the importance and valence of a target person's achievement outcome affect (a) the intensity of surprise an observer feels about the actual outcome and (b) the role surprise plays in the motivation of the search for a causal explanation for the target's outcome. The present experiments involved conditions controlling for the confounds among outcome valence, importance, and surprise. Both studies revealed that surprise intensity was affected by outcome valence and importance so that an important negative outcome elicits the highest surprise and unimportant success elicited the second highest surprise. Causal search was strong only after (unexpected) important failures. Results are explained in terms of an extended expectancy-disconfirmation approach.

surprise attribution motivation of causal search 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Guido H. E. Gendolla
    • 1
  • Michael Koller
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of PsychologyUniversity of ErlangenGermany
  2. 2.Philipps-UniversityMarburgGermany

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