Do people want to feel emotions that are familiar to them? In two studies, participants rated how much they typically felt various emotions (i.e., familiarity of the emotion) and how much they generally wanted to experience these emotions. We found that, in general, people wanted to feel pleasant emotions more than unpleasant emotions. However, for both pleasant and unpleasant emotions, people more (vs. less) familiar with an emotion also wanted to experience it more. Links between the familiarity of an emotion and wanting to experience that emotion were not explained by the concurrent experience of familiar emotions. Also, we show that although familiar emotions were also liked more, liking did not fully account for wanting familiar emotions. Finally, the familiarity of emotions mediated the links between trait affect and the emotions people wanted to feel. We propose that people are motivated to feel familiar emotions, in part, because of their instrumental value.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Correspondence should be addressed to: Brett Ford, Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley, 3210 Tolman Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA. E-mail: Brett.Q.Ford@berkeley.edu This work was supported by a National Science Foundation grant (SES 0920918) to Maya Tamir.
- Emotion regulation