Individual talks: Deep emotions

July 11th Room 5

What can emotion research learn from the study of dream emotions: a methodological perspective 

Pilleriin Sikka

We experience emotions not only during wakefulness but also during dreaming. Dreaming is a sequence of subjective experiences occurring during sleep. Because emotional experiences during dreaming are disconnected from the external environment and motor activity, it is possible to study the “pure” conscious subjective experience of emotions. To date, the emotional experiences that occur during dreaming have been largely neglected in emotion research, although the study of dream emotions and the related methodological issues are relevant for the study of emotions in general. One methodological debate in dream research is centred on self-reports used to collect data about emotional experiences in dreams. Self-reports are the most common, and currently the only, method for measuring the subjective emotional experience. However, it is unclear which type of self-reports – rating scales or narrative reports – provides the most valid and reliable results regarding the underlying emotional experience. In the present talk I will give an overview of a series of studies in which we investigated the degree of convergence between the rating scales and narrative reports of dream emotions. We found that results regarding emotional experiences in dreams are very different, even contradictory, depending on which type of self-report is used. Moreover, rating scales and narrative reports of dream emotions are differentially related to waking state well-being. I will discuss possible reasons for these discrepancies and the implications this has for the study of emotional experiences in both dreaming and waking states.

What unconscious emotions are 

Sarah Arnaud

My goal is to solve the contradiction that emerges from assessing the existence of unconscious emotions. Several authors have assessed the possibility of unconscious emotions and explain that they designate emotions that are not felt, or that lack the "experiential, phenomenological, "what-it's-like" aspect of emotion" (Winkielman et al, 2005). This seems to imply that the feeling or the phenomenology of emotions designates emotional consciousness. However, the phenomenology of emotions is often considered as their necessary component, which seems to contradict the possibility of unconscious emotions. To resolve this inconsistency, instead of rejecting the possibility of unconscious emotions, I will propose a distinction between two meanings of emotional consciousness that are compatible with the contemporary leading views on consciousness in neuroscience, without differentiating different senses of "emotions" or of "consciousness". The first meaning designates the phenomenology of the emotion: the consciousness of some surrounding components of the environment (the negative aspect triggered by something offensive, the intensity felt for the object of love); whereas the second designates the phenomenology of having this emotion: the consciousness of the emotion itself (feeling oneself as being angry, being conscious of being in love). This distinction allows us to solve our contradiction: if all emotions have a phenomenology, implying a consciousness of some elements in one's environment, one does not necessarily feel like, or is not necessarily conscious of being in such emotional state. Winkielman, P., Berridge, K. C., & Wilbarger, J. L. (2005). Emotion, behavior, and conscious experience. Emotion and Consciousness, 334-362.

“Passion” in Contemporary Psychology: A Critical Appraisal 

Louis C. Charland

Apparently, “passion” has disappeared. (1) However, on closer look, “passion” does have some contemporary adherents. This presentation examines three such proposals in order to assess their merits. (2) All three proposals rely on and defend the assumption that “passion” is not reducible to “emotion,” or indeed any other grouping of theoretical categories. Additionally, all three proposals suppose that one of the important differences between “passion” and “emotion” lies in the duration of the affective processes involved. Historically, the view that emotions are relatively short term affective states, while passions can endure for years, can be traced back to the philosopher Immanuel Kant. A third thesis, which is that passions often serve to organize emotions over time, is only explicitly expressed in one of the proposals under study. This probably is the strongest argument for distinguishing “passion” from “emotion” and it has important implications for emotion regulation and clinical therapy. (1) Dixon, T. (2012). “Emotion”: The History of a Keyword in Crisis. Emotion Review, Vol 4, Issue 4, pp. 338 – 344. (2). Charland, L. C. & Hope, T. & Stewart, A. & Tan, J. (2013). Anorexia Nervosa as a Passion. Philosophy, Psychiatry, & Psychology 20(4), 353-365; Vallerand, R.J., (2015) The Psychology of Passion: A Dualistic Model. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Frijda, N.H., Mesquita, B., Sonnemans, J., & Van Goozen, S. (1991). The duration of affective phenomena or: emotions, sentiments and passions. In K.T. Strongman (Ed.), International Review of Studies on Emotion (Vol. 1, pp. 187-225). Chichester: John Wiley.