Emotionology in prose: A study of descriptions of emotions from three literary periods

Cognition and Emotion 15 (5):553-573 (2001)
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Descriptions of emotion incidents were extracted from classic American novels of the Romantic, Victorian, and Modern Periods. These descriptions were then rated by respondents on scales relevant to attribution of responsibility for emotions. It was found that ratings of the emotion descriptions differed across the three literary periods, with descriptions from the Romantic Period being rated most intense and most appropriate, descriptions from the Victorian Period as least intense, and descriptions from the Modern Period as least appropriate. In addition, it was found that the contemporary American folk theory of attribution of responsibility for emotions might be characterised as being based on perceived intensity of emotions, the social appropriateness of emotions, and the degree to which persons other than the emoter might be said to be responsible for the emoter's emotion. These findings are supportive of a growing appreciation in the emotion literature for culturally and historically relative approaches to emotion research.



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