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Emotional Creativity

James R. Averill

Subject Psychology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405161251.2009.x


Emotional creativity is the ability of people to develop new and more adaptive kinds of emotions. Conventional wisdom holds that emotions are biologically based, automatic responses over which we have little control. If that were true, there would be little opportunity for emotional creativity But conventional wisdom can be misleading, particularly with respect to discrete emotions – those states recognized in ordinary language as “anger,” “grief,” “love,” “fear,” and the like. (Discrete emotions can be contrasted with indeterminate affective states such as excitation and depression.) Discrete emotions are behavioral syndromes . The notion of a syndrome is familiar from its use in medicine. Measles exemplifies a disease syndrome, that is, a coordinated set of symptoms related to a specific origin (etiology) and following an expected course (prognosis). Emotional syndromes are logically (not patho logically) similar, except that the “symptoms” are more behavioral than physiological, the etiology is typically the way a person appraises the situation, and the prognosis is the way an episode commonly progresses toward some aim. For example, anger is a set of responses the aim of which is to correct an appraised wrong. Also, in the case of emotional syndromes, no single response, or type of response (e.g., instrumental act, expressive reaction, physiological change) is a necessary ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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