Qualitative and Quantitative Sources of Affect: How Valence and Unexpectedness Relate to Pleasantness and Preference

Asghar Iran-Nejad*, Andrew Ortony

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Optimal-level theories maintain that the quality of affect is a function of a quantitative arousal potential dimension. An alternative view is that the quantitative dimension merely modulates preexisting qualitative properties and is therefore only responsible for changes in the degree of affect. Thus, the quality of affect, whether it is positive or negative, has to be treated as a separate independent variable. In an experiment to compare these alternatives, the quantitative dimension was manipulated by varying the degree of unexpectedness of endings in stories that were overall either positive or negative. Contrary to predictions of optimal-level theory, results showed that differently valenced story endings, judged the same on an expectation scale, were rated very differently in hedonic tone and preference.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-278
Number of pages22
JournalBasic and Applied Social Psychology
Volume6
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 1985

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology

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