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Title:Qualitative and Quantitative Causes of the Experience of Affect
Author(s):Iran-Nejad, Asghar
Department / Program:Education
Discipline:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ph.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):Education, Educational Psychology
Abstract:This dissertation used a story-appreciation methodology, namely, a surprise discourse-structure paradigm, to investigate factors that determine the quality and the intensity of affect. Undergraduate subjects read stories which ended with information that varied in degree of surprisingness, valence potential, and resolution of comprehender's text-understanding problems. Ratings of hedonic tone (e.g., unpleasantness/pleasantness), cognitive activity (i.e., interestingness), perceived resolvedness of text-understanding problems (e.g., not resolved/resolved), and perceived peripheral arousal (i.e., tenseness/excitement) were used to examine the effects of the three independent factors on the quality and intensity of the experience of affect.
The story-appreciation paradigm made it possible to contrast hypotheses derived from a recent biofunctional theory with those derived from traditional optimal-level or cognitive-appraisal theories of affect. Optimal-level theories imply that both the quality and the intensity of the experience of affect arise from a quantitative arousal potential factor. Appraisal theories maintain that quality and intensity are two independent dimensions, but they argue (a) that intensity is determined by the degree of peripheral arousal and (b) that quality is determined by cognitive appraisal of presumed causes of the prevailing arousal levels. In contrast, the biofunctional theory predicts (a) that the quantity is determined by the degree of peripheral arousal and (b) that quality is determined by cognitive appraisal of presumed causes of the prevailing arousal levels. In contrast, the biofunctional theory predicts (a) that quantity (of arousal potential) does not generate (affective) quality, (b) that cognitive activity does not generate affective quality, (c) that cognitive activity influences both the quality and intensity of affect, and (d) that qualitative valence potential properties of external stimulation exert their influence independently of quantitative arousal potential properties.
While the results did not particularly favor the predictions of optimal-level or arousal-appraisal theories, all of the predictions of the biofunctional theory were supported. Contrary to optimal-level theory, degree of surprisingness had no effect on quality of hedonic tone. Rather, as predicted by the biofunctional model, valence potential of the critical ending information was the only factor that clearly influenced the quality of affect. Also, as predicted, cognitive activity, represented by interestingness ratings, influenced intensity of hedonic tone without the mediation of perceived peripheral arousal. It was concluded that the biofunctional theory is a more adequate model of affect and its relation to cognition.
Issue Date:1983
Type:Text
Description:154 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1983.
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/68850
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8309962
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1983


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