Intl. Conference on the (Non)Expression of Emotion in Health and Disease edition:4 location:Tilburg, The Netherlands date:October 2007
To accommodate the fact that specific emotions can arise spontaneously, appraisal theorists have suggested that the emotion-antecedent appraisal process can be automatic (Ekman, 1992; Frijda, 1993; Lazarus, 1991; Scherer, 1993). Support for the automaticity of individual appraisal components has been obtained with various experimental research methods. Attentional bias research supports the automatic nature of novelty and goal relevance appraisals (Gati & Ben-Shakar, 1990). Affective priming studies suggest the automaticity of intrinsic pleasantness (Draine & Greenwald, 1998) and goal (in)congruence appraisals (Moors, De Houwer, Hermans, & Eelen, 2005). Other experimental tasks reveal that appraisals of agency/intentionality can be automatic (Hassin, Aarts, & Ferguson, 2007). Finally, studies on the automatic assessment of control (Aarts, 2007) and relative power (Moors & De Houwer, 2005) suggest the possibility of automatic appraisal of coping potential. I present a variant of the affective priming task in which primes are events in a pacman game and targets are words to which participants have to give speeded responses. This task allows us to investigate the automaticity of several appraisal components.
In a recent set of studies, we used it to further investigate the automaticity of the appraisal of coping potential. I describe the first results obtained with this task. I also discuss the difficulty to disentangle coping potential and valence in this task.