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Emotion. 2005 Mar;5(1):89-102.

What is interesting? Exploring the appraisal structure of interest.

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Department of Psychology, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, NC 27402-6170, USA.


Relative to other emotions, interest is poorly understood. On the basis of theories of appraisal process and structure, it was predicted that interest consists of appraisals of novelty (factors related to unfamiliarity and complexity) and appraisals of coping potential (the ability to understand the new, complex thing). Four experiments, using in vivo rather than retrospective methods, supported this appraisal structure. The findings were general across measured and manipulated appraisals, interesting stimuli (random polygons, visual art, poetry), and measures of interest (self-reports, forced-choice, behavioral measures). Furthermore, the appraisal structure was specific to interest (it did not predict enjoyment, a related positive emotion), and appraisals predicted interest beyond relevant traits (curiosity, openness). The appraisal perspective offers a powerful way of construing the causes of interest.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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