Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 225–231 | Cite as

Emotion Concepts and Self-Focused Attention: Exploring Parallel Effects of Emotional States and Emotional Knowledge

  • Paul J. Silvia
  • Ann G. Phillips
  • Miriam K. Baumgaertner
  • Emily L. Maschauer
Original Paper


Many experiments have found that emotional experience affects self-focused attention. Several approaches to cognition and emotion predict that conscious emotional experience may be unnecessary for this effect. To test this hypothesis, two experiments primed emotion concepts without affecting emotional experience. In Experiment 1, subliminal exposure to sad faces (relative to happy faces and neutral faces) increased self-focused attention but not subjectively experienced affect. In Experiment 2, a scrambled-sentences task that primed happy and sad emotion concepts increased self-focused attention relative to a neutral task. Thus, simply activating knowledge about emotions was sufficient to increase self-focused attention. The discussion considers implications for research on how emotional states affect self-awareness.


Emotion Self-awareness Emotion concepts Self-focused attention Cognition and emotion 



We thank Åse Innes-Ker and Paula Niedenthal for providing the scrambled sentences used in Experiment 2 and Will Krause for assistance with data collection. This research was presented at the 2004 meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association and at the 2005 meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. The measures of self-awareness are available at


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul J. Silvia
    • 1
  • Ann G. Phillips
    • 1
  • Miriam K. Baumgaertner
    • 1
  • Emily L. Maschauer
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of North Carolina at GreensboroGreensboroUSA

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