Why are negative emotions so central in art reception far beyond tragedy? Revisiting classical aesthetics in the light of recent psychological research, we present a novel model to explain this much discussed (apparent) paradox. We argue that negative emotions are an important resource for the arts in general, rather than a special license for exceptional art forms only. The underlying rationale is that negative emotions have been shown to be particularly powerful in securing attention, intense emotional involvement, and high memorability, (...) and hence is precisely what artworks strive for. Two groups of processing mechanisms are identified that conjointly adopt the particular powers of negative emotions for art's purposes. The first group consists of psychological distancing mechanisms that are activated along with the cognitive schemata of art, representation, and fiction. These schemata imply personal safety and control over continuing or discontinuing exposure to artworks, thereby preventing negative emotions from becoming outright incompatible with expectations of enjoyment. This distancing sets the stage for a second group of processing components that allow art recipients to positively embrace the experiencing of negative emotions, thereby rendering art reception more intense, more interesting, more emotionally moving, more profound, and occasionally even more beautiful. These components include compositional interplays of positiveandnegative emotions, the effects of aesthetic virtues of using the media of (re)presentation (musical sound, words/language, color, shapes) on emotion perception, and meaning-making efforts. Moreover, our Distancing-Embracing model proposes that concomitant mixed emotions often help integrate negative emotions into altogether pleasurable trajectories. (shrink)
Admiration and adoration have been considered as emotions with the power to change people, yet our knowledge of the specific nature and function of these emotions is quite limited. From an interdisciplinary perspective, we present a prototype approach to admiration and what has variously been labelled adoration, worship, or reverence. Both admiration and adoration contribute to the formation of personal and collective ideals, values, and identities, but their workings differ. We offer a detailed theoretical account of commonalities and differences in (...) the appraisal patterns and action tendencies associated with the two emotions. This analysis reveals that admiration motivates the internalisation and emulation of ideals embodied by an outstanding role model. Adoration motivates adherence to the teachings and expectations of a meaning maker and benefactor perceived as superhuman or sacred. Thus, the primary function of admiration is to promote individual learning and change, whereas adoration primarily serves to bind communities together. (shrink)
Research on the relation between sound and meaning in language has reported substantial evidence for implicit associations between articulatory–acoustic characteristics of phonemes and emotions. In the present study, we specifically tested the relation between the acoustic properties of a text and its emotional tone as perceived by readers. To this end, we asked participants to assess the emotional tone of single stanzas extracted from a large variety of poems. The selected stanzas had either an extremely high, a neutral, or an (...) extremely low average formant dispersion. To assess the average formant dispersion per stanza, all words were phonetically transcribed and the distance between the first and second formant per vowel was calculated. Building on a long tradition of research on associations between sound frequency on the one hand and non‐acoustic concepts such as size, strength, or happiness on the other hand, we hypothesized that stanzas with an extremely high average formant dispersion would be rated lower on items referring to Potency (dominance) and higher on items referring to Activity (arousal) and Evaluation (emotional valence). The results confirmed our hypotheses for the dimensions of Potency and Evaluation, but not for the dimension of Activity. We conclude that, at least in poetic language, extreme values of acoustic features of vowels are a significant predictor for the emotional tone of a text. (shrink)
Aesthetic emotions are elicited by different sensory impressions generated by music, visual arts, literature, theater, film, or nature scenes. Recently, the AESTHEMOS scale has been developed to facilitate the empirical assessment of such emotions. In this article we report a semantic profile analysis of aesthetic emotion terms that had been used for the development of this scale, using the GRID approach. This method consists of obtaining ratings of emotion terms on a set of meaning facets which represent five components of (...) the emotion process. The aims here were to determine the dimensionality of the GRID features when applied to aesthetic emotions and compare it to published results for emotion terms in general, and to examine the internal organization of the domain of aesthetic emotion terms in order to identify salient clusters of these items based on the similarity of their feature profiles on the GRID. Exploratory Principal Component Analyses suggest a four-dimensional structure of the semantic space consisting of valence, power, arousal, and novelty, converging with earlier GRID studies on large sets of standard emotion terms. Using cluster analyses, 15 clusters of aesthetic emotion terms with similar GRID feature profiles were identified, revealing the internal organization of the aesthetic emotion terms domain and meaningful subgroups of aesthetic emotions. While replication for further languages is required, these findings provide a solid basis for further research and methodological development in the realm of aesthetic emotions. (shrink)
Conveying emotions in spoken poetry may be based on a poem’s semantic content and/or on emotional prosody, i.e. on acoustic features above single speech sounds. However, hypotheses of more direct sound–emotion relations in poetry, such as those based on the frequency of occurrence of certain phonemes, have not withstood empirical (re)testing. Therefore, we investigated sound–emotion associations based on prosodic features as a potential alternative route for the, at least partially, non-semantic expression and perception of emotions in poetry. We first conducted (...) a pre-study designed to validate relevant parameters of joy- and sadness-supporting prosody in the recitation, i.e. acoustic production, of poetry. The parameters obtained thereof guided the experimental modification of recordings of German joyful and sad poems such that for each poem, three prosodic variants were constructed: one with a joy-supporting prosody, one with a sadness-supporting prosody, and a neutral variant. In the subsequent experiment, native German speakers and participants with no command of German rated the joyfulness and sadness of these three variants. This design allowed us to investigate the role of emotional prosody, operationalized in terms of sound-emotion parameters, both in combination with and dissociated from semantic access to the emotional content of the poems. The findings from our pre-study showed that the emotional content of poems (based on pre-classifications into joyful and sad) indeed predicted the prosodic features pitch and articulation rate. The subsequent perception experiment revealed that cues provided by joyful and sad prosody specifically affect non-German-speaking listeners’ emotion ratings of the poems. Thus, the present investigation lends support to the hypothesis of prosody-based iconic relations between perceived emotion and sound qualia. At the same time, our findings also highlight that semantic access substantially decreases the role of cross-language sound–emotion associations and indicate that non-German-speaking participants may also use phonetic and prosodic cues other than the ones that were targeted and manipulated here. (shrink)
Competitive courtship and aesthetic judgment/choice : Darwin's model of the arts -- The arts as promoters of social cooperation and cohesion -- Engagement in the arts as ontogenetic self-(trans-)formation -- A cooptation model of the evolution of the human arts : the special role of play behavior -- Technology, and symbolic cognition.
Strongly positive uses of terms that designate an absence, a cognitive or ontological impossibility or a sensory privation are among the persistent conceptual figures of Benjamin’s thought. This article analyses the moves by which Benjamin gave his concept of ‘the expressionless’ its intriguing semantic meaning and moral value. Drawing on the poetics and philosophy of the sublime from Greek antiquity through modern times, the article reveals key historical reference points of Benjamin’s concept and, furthermore, his strategy of advocating a novel (...) theory of the sublime as an antithesis to, or an interruption of, the beautiful by selectively integrating older traditions with theorems previously unrelated to these traditions. (shrink)