Differential impact of beliefs on valence and arousal

Antoinette Nicolle, Vinod Goel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many cognitive accounts of emotional processing assume that emotions have representational content that can be influenced by beliefs and desires. It is generally thought that emotions also have non-cognitive, affective components, including valence and arousal. To clarify the impact of cognition on these affective components we asked participants to rate sentences along cognitive and affective dimensions. For the former case, participants rated the believability of the material. For the latter case, they provided valence and arousal ratings. Across two experiments, we show that valence and arousal are differently influenced by beliefs, suggesting that these two largely independent affective components of emotion differ in their cognitive penetrability. While both components depended upon overall comprehension of sentence meaning, only valence was influenced by the consistency of the sentences with participants' beliefs (i.e., whether it was believable or unbelievable). We discuss the implications of these findings for understanding cognition-emotion relationships.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-272
Number of pages10
JournalCognition and Emotion
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2013


  • Affect
  • Arousal
  • Belief
  • Cognition
  • Emotion
  • Valence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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