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J Pers Soc Psychol. 1989 Apr;56(4):519-30.

Preferences as expectation-driven inferences: effects of affective expectations on affective experience.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville 22903-2477.


Presents a model arguing that affect and emotion are often formed in an expectation-driven fashion. A pilot study and 2 experiments manipulated undergraduate Ss' affective expectations (e.g., how funny they expected a set of cartoons to be) and whether Ss' expectations were confirmed (e.g., whether the cartoons really were funny). When the value of a stimulus was consistent with an affective expectation, people formed evaluations relatively quickly. Even when the value of a stimulus was discrepant from an affective expectation, people sometimes assimilated the value of the stimulus to their expectations. Other times, such as when making a more fine-grained evaluation of the cartoons, people noticed that they were discrepant from their affective expectations. Under these conditions, people appeared to have more difficulty forming preferences. They took longer to evaluate and spent more time thinking about the cartoons.

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