Lenses of the Heart: How Actors’ and Observers’ Perspectives Influence Emotional Experiences
This research examines how the visual perspectives that people take to appraise an event, that is, whether they view themselves as actors in the situation or observers of it, influence the intensities of the emotions they experience. We predict that in a situation that elicits emotions, greater attention to the self (if using an observer’s perspective) leads to greater intensity of self-conscious emotions such as pride, guilt, and embarrassment, whereas greater attention to the situation (if using an actor’s perspective) leads to greater intensity of hedonic emotions such as joy, sorrow, and excitement. In this way, visual perspectives can act as situational antecedents that shape the use of emotion appraisals. Three experiments support these propositions and demonstrate the mediating role of appraisals, across a variety of emotion-eliciting contexts, that were visualized as well as recalled.
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