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Emotional Arousal Theory

Dolf Zillmann

Subject Psychology
Communication Studies » Communication Reception and Effects

Key-Topics emotion

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


Arousal is commonly construed as the experience of restlessness, excitation, and agitation. It manifests itself in heightened overt and covert bodily activities that create a readiness for action (→  Physical Effects of Media Content ). Acute states of such arousal characterize all vital emotions, and the subjective experience of these acute states is part and parcel of all strong feelings. Emotional arousal is consequently seen as an essential component of such experiences as pleasure and displeasure, sadness and happiness, love and hate, despair and elation, gaiety and dejection, rage and exultation, exhilaration and grief, frustration and triumph, merriment and fear, anger and joy, and so on (→  emotion ). Features common to all acute emotions are that their high arousal intensity is comparatively short-lived and that they show a strong focus on both causal circumstances and motivational implications. Moods are also considered affective or emotional states that are associated with elevated arousal states. In contrast to emotions, however, moods are typified by lower arousal intensities and longer periods of persistence. Additionally, whereas emotions are instigated by apparent causes and, in turn, instigate cause-determined actions, moods lack such focus and are marked by motivational diffuseness instead. As both the evocation of emotions and the modification of moods are essential ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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