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Chapter 8

PSYC12H3 Chapter 8: Chapter 8

Course Code
Nick Hobson

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Chapter 8 Effective Processes
- Affect/core affect involves the two dimensions of valence (pleasant/unpleasant) and arousal
(energized/passive), which are fundamental to all moods as well as emotions.
o Affect fluctuates in response to positive or negative external events & as physiological states,
perceive their current affective state as the sense of feeling good or bad, tired or energized.
o Affect is a ‘neurophysiological state that is consciously accessible as a simple, nonreflective
feeling that is an integral blend of hedonic (pleasure) and arousal (sleepy-activated) values’
- Mood is an affective state that is relatively long-lasting and not necessarily attributed to any specific cause
with same two-dimensional structure as affect
- Emotional episode is a subjectively experienced and time-bounded state that combines an affective state
with relevant cognitions (beliefs, interpretations, appraisals) and behaviors (instrumental behaviors, such
as fleeing in fear, and facial behaviors, smiling in happiness).
- Appraisal theories of emotion: emotions are made by appraisals of objects/events that impinge the self
o Appraisals, conscious or nonconscious, are subjective interpretations
o A specific configuration of appraisals (e.g., the perception that a threatening object has just
appeared) generates the emotional episode, including the subjective experience of having an
emotion, affective changes (e.g., the onset of negative arousal), as well as changes in expressive
and instrumental behavior.
- Because appraisals are subjective, two different people (or one person at different times) may appraise an
identical event differently resulting in different emotional reactions.
- Basic emotion theories hold that there are perhaps a half-dozen ‘basic’ emotions dictated by biological
pathways, and that more complex emotions are blends of the basic ones.
- The core affect model holds that external events first produce an affective response, with the subjective
experience of an emotion arising later as the result of a categorization process.
o The person categorizes the episode as an instance of fear (or anger, or joy, etc.) based on the
experienced affect, salient objects or event in the environment that are interpreted as causing
the affect, and cultural or personal knowledge about emotion.
HISTORY; Immediate post-World-War-II era
- Modern research on prejudice and related issues began in the aftermath of World War II, as social
scientists sought to understand the roots of Nazism and American researchers began to come to grips
with racial injustice in the United States
- Adorno; Authoritarian Personality research group
o Freudian theory to understand Nazism in people’s deep subconscious conflicts
o Authoritarians were said to long to follow strong authority figures and to take a highly punitive
orientation toward outsiders or norm-violators.
- Gordon Allport (1954) published his seminal work on The Nature of Prejudice; he discussed an affective
pattern termed ‘character-conditioned hatred’ arising from a lifetime of disappointments and frustration.
o The individual ‘thinks up some convenient victim and some good reason.The Jews are conspiring
against him, or the politicians are set on making things worse’
o The target will often be some socially defined outgroup or scapegoat.
- They emphasize affective processes, extreme negative emotions toward outgroups.
- They regard these emotions as irrational, seeing them as generated by unconscious sources of motivation
and targeted at outgroups without logical justification.
- Adorno et al. and Allport sought to explain the psychology and behavior of the extreme bigot
The 1960s through the 1980s

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- A revolution in psychological science began to get underway, promising to explain the mind using the
concepts of information processing
- The cognitive revolution along with other factors contributed to Freudian psychodynamic theory’s fall
from favor within scientific psychology.
- Researchers began to realize that prejudice could be identified not only in fanatically bigoted,
psychologically disturbed Nazis, but in ordinary people in fact, people uncomfortably like ourselves.
- Pettigrew’s (1958) landmark work suggesting that anti-Black prejudice in the American South was driven
mostly by conformity to social norms rather than by inner psychodynamic conflicts.
- This approach soon established that people’s thinking about (and therefore their treatment of) other
people was pervasively influenced by their general beliefs
- Henri Tajfel (1978) and his colleagues developed Social Identity Theory and its later offshoot Self-
Categorization Theory
- The key point is that all three lines tended to de-emphasize affect in favor of ‘cold’ psychological
processes involving people’s desires to conform to the standards of their groups, to understand the world
by applying their knowledge, and to see themselves and others connected to them in a positive light.
- The social identity approach, however, by emphasizing motivation and the involvement of the self in
intergroup relations, did lay the groundwork for bringing emotions back into the picture.
The 1980s through the present
- Beginning in the middle of the 1980s, researchers began to study face-to-face intergroup interactions.
- Stephan and Stephan , Gaertner and Dovidio, and Dijker made explorations of how people experience
negative emotions such as anxiety, unease, or irritation in encounters with members of outgroups.
- Researchers began to investigate how emotional states might affect cognitive processes (such as
stereotyping) that are relevant to prejudice and intergroup behavior.
- Positive affect increased people’s tendency to use stereotypes, consistent with other findings that
positive affect reduced thoughtful cognitive processing.
- Smith coupled the social identity perspective to emotion theory, arguing that if people treat a social group
membership as part of the self then they might respond emotionally to events that affect the group.
- Three major lines of research and theory in the domain of prejudice and intergroup behavior.
o One represents an application of the more general idea that affect can moderate and regulate
cognitive processes, applied to understand how emotions that may arise in intergroup situations
might exacerbate stereotyping or other cognitive processes.
o A second line investigates the often negative emotions that people feel during actual (or,
sometimes, imagined) face-to-face intergroup encounters.
o And the third line takes up the insight of the social identity approach, that group identification
makes an ingroup part of the psychological self, and examines how events that impinge on a
group can excite emotional responses in an individual group member even one who is not
personally affected by the event.
Incidental affect: Affect moderates cognitive processes
- Affective states influence cognitive processes; this can be testified by anyone who has ever been ‘so mad I
can’t think straight.’
- This line of work focuses on the general processing effects of an affective state, which itself may stem
from some completely irrelevant source (i.e., not necessarily from the intergroup situation itself). For this
reason, it is often termed ‘incidental affect.
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