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Title page for ETD etd-07202007-102330

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author David, Bea
Author's Email Address bea.david@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-07202007-102330
Title Testing a process model of emotions: associative activation of appraisals via priming techniques – preliminary studies
Degree Master of Science
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Craig A. Smith Committee Chair
Howard M. Sandler Committee Member
Jo-Anne Bachorowski Committee Member
  • coping potential
  • pronunciation task
  • subliminal
  • appraisal theory
  • associative processing
  • priming
  • Emotions -- Research
Date of Defense 2006-05-09
Availability unrestricted
Emotions guide our thoughts and actions, and understanding which cognitions lead to which emotions and exactly how these emotions are triggered is an increasingly important research area. Appraisal theory provides a perspective on emotional processing that is driven by the interpretation or appraisal of one’s circumstances, not the circumstances themselves. Smith and Lazarus (1990) mapped out which specific appraisals lead to which specific emotions and provided empirical evidence for their ‘structural model of appraisals’. Smith and Kirby (2000) proposed a mechanism via which these appraisals elicit emotions and suggested two different modes of processing information namely (a) via slow, deliberate and conscious reasoning or (b) in a quick, automatic, unconscious and associative manner. In the current thesis we set out to empirically test Smith and Kirby’s (2000) ‘process model of appraisals’, focusing specifically on associative processing. We attempted to activate specific appraisals via the associative route through subliminal priming and were interested in how these appraisals influence emotional and behavioral responses to a problem-solving task. In preparation for this main study, we conducted three pilot studies to (1) collect adequate stimuli for our priming procedure, (2) test the subliminal aspect of this procedure, and (3) validate its effectiveness. Adequate stimuli were collected, and while our priming procedure proved to be subliminal, no evidence was obtained for its effectiveness.
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