In contrast to the Theory of Basic Emotions, the core affect model (Russell, 2003; Russell & Feldman-Barrett, 1999; Fernández-Dols & Russell, 2003) proposes that the basic emotions, rather than being self-contained phenomena with necessary and sufficient characteristics that distinguish them from other emotions, are the result of a combination of more basic processes–related to the processing of core affect—which in our everyday subjective experience we identify as emotion. In this perspective, our research group’s project (MICINN PSI2011-28720) is currently focusing its attention on several lines of research on emotions: experience, expression, action patterns and everyday conceptions of emotion.
Emotional experience:
In this line we have been developing analogue measurement instruments with the aim of gathering specific information on the degree of simultaneity of mixed emotions (emotions with opposing valences experienced simultaneously), data which is essential for attempts to resolve the open debate between bipolar and univariate models of affect. The “Analogue Scale for the Measurement of Emotions” (AES) has proved to be a reliable and valid instrument for describing the flow of mixed emotional experiences (Carrera & Oceja, 2007; Oceja & Carrera, 2009). Within this research area we have begun a series of projects with the objective of improving the evaluation of a) empathy and personal stress associated with different presentations of need situations, such as the presentation of a victim as “one among other victims”, and their consequences for helping behaviour; and b) the evaluation of future-oriented emotions involved in the prediction of risk behaviours, in the form of anticipated and anticipatory emotions.
Everyday conceptions of emotion:
This line of research dates back to 1995 and a seminar on everyday conceptions of emotion (vid. Russell & Fernández-Dols, Manstead & Wellenkamp, 1995). We are currently working on the problems associated with the translation of natural categories of emotion, and especially the lack of exact correspondence between concepts normally considered as synonymous in translations. The starting point for this line of work were the problems involved in the translation of the Spanish term vergüenza and “shame” (Hurtado de Mendoza, Fernández-Dols, Parrott & Carrera, (2010).
Emotional expression:
The lack of a necessary and sufficient relationship between the experience of the so-called basic emotions and the production of prototypical expressions appears to be clear from the evidence of numerous studies by our research group on spontaneous facial expressions in situations of intense emotional experience. In this line we have explored the facial behaviour associated with situations of intense happiness (Fernández-Dols & Ruiz-Belda, 1995), intense pleasure (Fernández-Dols, Carrera & Crivelli, 2011) and joy (Ruiz-Belda, Fernández-Dols, Carrera & Barchard, 2003). Likewise, we have studied the role of contextual factors in the attribution of emotions to facial expressions (e.g., Fernández-Dols, Carrera, Barchard & Gacitua, 1998). For these results we have proposed some frameworks of theoretical interpretation (see Russell & Fernandez-Dols, 1997; Fernández-Dols, 1999).
Patterns of action-behaviour:
In this area we are working to improve the predictions of the Theory of Planned Behaviour (Ajzen, 1991) about the intention to perform a risk behaviour (e.g., occasional excessive drinking), adding the measure of future-oriented emotions in the form of anticipated emotions and anticipatory emotions. We are broadening this research line to include other immediate antecedents of behaviour, such as estimated probability and willingness to perform a risk behaviour. Also in the context of risk behaviours, we are studying the effects of different types of emotional messages on the proximal antecedents of behaviour: mixed emotional messages versus negative messages and emotional messages in the perfect tense versus the imperfect tense.