Feelings and Emotions: The Amsterdam Symposium location:Amsterdam, The Netherlands date:June 2001
A central assumption in appraisal theories of emotion is that the emotion-eliciting stimulus can be evaluated in an automatic fashion. Both affective priming (Bargh, Chaiken, Govender, & Pratto, 1992; Fazio, Sanbonmatsu, Powell & Kardes, 1986; Hermans, De Houwer, & Eelen, 1994) and affective Simon studies (De Houwer & Eelen, 1998) provide support for this assumption. In those studies only the intrinsic stimulus valence was manipulated, whereas the key appraisal component in most appraisal theories is the appraisal of motivational stimulus valence (cfr. Leventhal & Scherer’s goal conduciveness, 1987 or Smith & Lazarus’ motivational congruence, 1993). A number of appraisal theories assume that automaticity is not an exclusive feature of intrinsic pleasantness but that it also applies to evaluations that are made in the light of concerns or goals (e.g., Frijda, 1986; 1993; Lazarus, 1991; Scherer, 1993a). Our aim is to investigate this assumption. Whereas appraisal theorists typically use conscious self-report methods to investigate their assumptions, our experiments used indirect experimental methods that leave less room for deliberate, conscious reflections of the participants. Using variants of the affective priming (experiment 1) and Simon experiments (experiment 2), we demonstrated that intrinsically neutral, but wanted stimuli facilitated responses with a positive valence, whereas intrinsically neutral, but unwanted stimuli facilitated negative responses. In addition, the second experiment proved to be supportive of another assumption made by appraisal theorists according to which a relation exits between different (automatic) goal-relevance appraisals and different action tendencies (approach-withdrawal).