Immediacy Bias in Emotion Perception: Current Emotions Seem More Intense than Previous Emotions

Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Vol. 138, No. 3, 368-382, 2009

15 Pages Posted: 19 Feb 2010

See all articles by Michaela Huber

Michaela Huber

University of Colorado at Boulder

Katherine White

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Leaf Van Boven

University of Colorado Boulder

Date Written: 2009

Abstract

People tend to perceive immediate emotions as more intense than previous emotions. This immediacy bias in emotion perception occurred for exposure to emotional but not neutral stimuli (Study 1), when emotional stimuli were separated by both shorter (2 s; Studies 1 and 2) and longer (20 min; Studies 3, 4, and 5) delays, and for emotional reactions to pictures (Studies 1 and 2), films (Studies 3 and 4), and descriptions of terrorist threats (Study 5). The immediacy bias may be partly caused by immediate emotion’s salience, and by the greater availability of information about immediate compared with previous emotion. Consistent with emotional salience, when people experienced new emotions, they perceived previous emotions as less intense than they did initially (Studies 3 and 5) - a change in perception that did not occur when people did not experience a new immediate emotion (Study 2). Consistent with emotional availability, reminding people that information about emotions naturally decays from memory reduced the immediacy bias by making previous emotions seem more intense (Study 4). Discussed are implications for psychological theory and other judgments and behaviors.

Keywords: emotion, judgment, heuristic, memory, perception

Suggested Citation

Huber, Michaela and White, Katherine and Van Boven, Leaf, Immediacy Bias in Emotion Perception: Current Emotions Seem More Intense than Previous Emotions (2009). Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Vol. 138, No. 3, 368-382, 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1532574

Michaela Huber

University of Colorado at Boulder

1070 Edinboro Drive
Boulder, CO 80309
United States

Katherine White

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Leaf Van Boven (Contact Author)

University of Colorado Boulder ( email )

University of Colorado Boulder
Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, 345 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309
United States
303.735.5238 (Phone)
303.492.2967 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://psych.colorado.edu/~vanboven/

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