Conference of the Consortium of European Researchers on Emotion edition:3 location:Lille, France date:April 2010
Appraisal theorists have thoroughly studied how emotions are activated differentially by particular appraisals of events. Until now, the focus of their studies has been on the relation between appraisals and the subjective feeling component of emotions. However, full emotional episodes also contain other components such as action tendencies, physiology, expressive and motor components. Few studies have addressed the relation between appraisals and action tendencies or behavior. The aim of our study is to introduce a new method to study this. We examined the hypothesis that the appraisal of agency, which is thought to differentiate between regret and anger (regret is elicited in self-agency situations, whereas anger is elicited in other-agency situations), also differentiates between the action tendencies associated with regret (repairing the situation) and anger (attacking the person that is to blame). In the experiment, participants played a choice game against an opponent. The game consisted of a series of trials. On half of the trials the participant had to choose between two options (self-agency trials). On the other half of the trials, the opponent blocked one of the options (other-agency trials). In both types of trials, the outcome could be either positive or negative (the participant won 10 points or 0 points). After a negative outcome, participants had to choose whether to respond with a repair response (increasing his/her own score) or with an attack response (decreasing the score of the opponent). The decision times of participants were significantly faster when making a congruent response choice (i.e. when they made a repair response on self-agency trials or an attack response to other-agency trials) We discuss the applicability of this paradigm for the study of other appraisal variables and emotions.