Affective realism

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Chapter 4 endnote 44, from How Emotions are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett.
Some context is:

...the next time a good friend snaps at you, remember affective realism. Maybe your friend is irritated with you, but perhaps she didn’t sleep well last night, or maybe it’s just lunchtime. The change in her body budget, which she’s experiencing as affect, might not have anything to do with you. [...] Even simple actions like taking a drink become moments of affective realism.

Thirsty people pour and drink more of a fruit-flavored beverage, and are willing to pay more for it, when they’re shown smiling faces (although they are unaware of having seen them).[1][2][3] Marketing departments count on these effects.[4]

Some scientists refer to affective realism as “unconscious affect,”[1] but this is a misnomer, I think; people are not unconscious of affect, they are just unaware of its source and influence.


Notes on the Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 Winkielman, Piotr, Kent C. Berridge, and Julia L. Wilbarger. 2005. "Unconscious affective reactions to masked happy versus angry faces influence consumption behavior and judgments of value." Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 31 (1): 121-135.
  2. Berridge, Kent, and Piotr Winkielman. 2003. "What is an unconscious emotion? (The case for unconscious 'liking')." Cognition & Emotion 17 (2): 181-211.
  3. Payne, B. Keith, Clara Michelle Cheng, Olesya Govorun, and Brandon D. Stewart. 2005 "An inkblot for attitudes: affect misattribution as implicit measurement." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 89 (3): 277-293.
  4. For other examples, see Murphy, Sheila T., and Robert B. Zajonc. 1993. "Affect, cognition, and awareness: Affective priming with optimal and suboptimal stimulus exposures." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 64 (5): 723-739. Niedenthal, Paula M. 1990. "Implicit perception of affective information." Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 26 (6): 505-527. Niedenthal, Paula M., and Shinobu Kitayama. 1994. The Heart’s Eye: Emotional Influences in Perception and Attention. San Diego: Academic Press.