Influence Motivation Through Appraisals: Activating Goals (2023)

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Another way in which emotions may influence judgments is by activating goals or motives. For example, emotions can affect judgments and behavior by priming different goals (Garg, Wansink, & Inman, 2007; Hoch & Loewenstein, 1991; Leith & Baumeister, 1996; Tice, Bratslavsky, & Baumeister, 2001; Winterich & Haws, 2011).

One outcome to view the interplay of different motivations is self-regulation. Self-conscious emotions affect self-regulation by way of activating different goals in different situations. Wilcox, Kramer, and Sen (2011) found that incidental pride (a discrete emotion with appraisal of self as having been responsible for outcomes) had dual effects on self-regulation leading to indulgent choices when pride promotes a sense of achievement and virtuous choices when pride promotes self-awareness. Participants primed with pride (vs. happiness vs. control) increased indulgence under low cognitive load because availability of high cognitive resources allowed participants to feel the complex sense of achievement and they felt a sense of having made progress in their long-term goals. In contrast, under high self-awareness, which has been shown to enhance individuals’ motivation to behave consistently with the long-term goals (Diener & Wallbom, 1976; Patrick, Chun, & MacInnis, 2009[D1]), incidental pride (vs. control) led to lower choice of indulgent foods and increased effort towards goal progress. This research highlights the need to take a nuanced view of the motivational influences of incidental emotions.

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Influences of emotions extend to social motivations (such as actions in service of relationship repair) and affect subsequent consumption decisions. In a field study, Dahl, Honea and Manchanda (2005) found that a consumers’ lack of purchase led consumers to feel guilty when they perceived a social connectedness with the salesperson and considered self to be responsible for the purchase. When consumers experience guilt, they intend to pursue reparative actions during future purchase interactions with the salesperson to repair their relationship. It is to be noted that in this research, the guilt is induced by past purchase behavior and is not incidental. However, this serves as an example regarding how social emotions might influence motivations and opens the line of enquiry about similar effects from incidental emotions.

The influence of emotions on goals or self-regulation is not limited to self-conscious emotions. Other appraisals can work through a different set of goals to impact self-regulation. For example, an appraisal dimension that is relevant to self-regulation is temporal focus of the incidental emotion because temporal focus is central to the trade-offs between long-term goals and short-term indulgences (Hoch & Lowenstein, 1991). Winterich and Haws (2011) found that future focused positive emotions such as hope (vs. pride, which is past focused) aided in making healthier food choices. In contrast, future-focused negative emotion (e.g., fear) did not influence self-regulation. This research indicates that a combination of appraisals (temporal focus and valence) influences self-regulation through differential goal activation.

Influence on coping strategies through appraisals.

Several of the studies earlier had a component of coping or regulating the emotion to feel better or rid oneself of negative appraisals[NA2]. Herrald and Tomaka (2002) found that when participants who felt angry or ashamed reported to cope with negative emotions by regulating their negative emotional responses through seeking social support or engaging in defensive processing to a greater extent than those who felt pride.

In a more specific link to coping strategies, distinct cognitive appraisal tendencies elicited by different emotions can also influence subsequent judgments and decision making via an activation of particular coping strategies. Duhachek, Agrawal, and Han (2012) suggest that guilt-laden individuals are more likely to activate problem-focused coping strategies, which refer to efforts to manage the source of stress directly (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984), because guilt is associated with high self-efficacy appraisals (i.e., I can fix the problem; Tangney, Stuewig, & Mashek, 2007). In contrast, shame-laden individuals are more likely to use emotion-focused coping strategies, which refer to efforts to regulate emotional responses toward the stress (e.g., stop thinking about it, let negative emotions out; Lazarus & Folkman, 1984), because shame is associated with low self-efficacy appraisals (i.e., I cannot fix the problem; Tangney, Stuewig, & Mashek, 2007). Consistent with the proposed theorizing, they found that guilt-laden participants activated greater problem-focused coping when they were shown the gain-framed messages whereas shame-laden participants evoked greater emotion-focused coping when they were shown the loss-framed messages. By studying the motivations associated with each emotion, we can better identify how emotions affect judgments and decision-making.

Influence mindsets through appraisals

Another way that emotions may affect may affect decisions is by activating a cognitive procedure or a set of associations that then automatically apply to the tasks conducted under the emotion’s influence. And example of this process can be found in studies where distinct emotions can activate different cognitive mindsets. Han, Duhachek, and Agrawal (2014) showed that guilt elicited low construal level mindset whereas shame elicited high construal level mindset based on the different cognitive appraisal tendencies associated with these two emotions. Specifically, previous research has shown that guilt is experienced when individuals appraise negative outcomes to their specific behaviors (i.e., behavior specific appraisals, such as “I did a bad thing”) whereas shame is experienced when individuals appraise negative outcomes to their global self (i.e., global self appraisals, such as “I am a bad person”). Based on these findings, Han, Duhachek, and Agrawal (2014) propose that these distinct cognitive appraisals elicited by two emotions activate local (in case of guilt) or global (in case of shame) appraisal tendencies which lead individuals to appraise the subsequent event in a manner consistent with their behavior-specific appraisals (in case of guilt) or their global-self appraisals (in case of shame) and that these local or global appraisal tendencies will activate either low or high construal level mindsets. Consistent with their theorizing, Han, Duhachek, and Agrawal (2014) found that the local appraisal tendency of guilt activated lower construal mindset and the global appraisal tendency of shame activated higher construal mindset, which in turn affects judgment and decision-making.

Thus emotions may influence judgments by providing information, goals, mindsets or coping processes. Understanding which appraisal is likely to trigger which process would allow researchers to predict the effects of different emotion more precisely.

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While we have discussed how two emotions may vary on an appraisal dimension, we have also discussed the potential for conflicting findings across appraisal dimensions. This highlights the need for us to study the interactions between two appraisal dimensions. How would two appraisal dimensions (say valence and self/other responsibility) interact to determine consequences? Research on specific emotions has focused mostly on one appraisal dimension. . However, because each emotion has multiple cognitive appraisals, some of the findings on the same emotions show inconsistent results. For example, shame sometimes leads to withdrawal behaviors (e.g., Duhachek, Agrawal, & Han, 2012) but sometimes leads to prosocial behaviors (e.g., de Hooge, Breugelmans, & Zeelenberg, 2008). These inconsistent findings on same emotion suggest that unidimensional cognitive appraisal approach may not fully capture how each emotion affects behavior and judgment. Thus, it is worthwhile to investigate how two appraisal dimensions interact to influence outcomes or consequences.

One way that two appraisals have been studied is to show different effects of valence across a set of emotions varying along another dimension as well. For example[NA3], SHAME and ANGER finding. Now say valence changes nature of finding: PRIDE GRATITUDE finding. Even thought the studies were different studies for postiiv ena dnegative emtoions, what we have is a conceptual interaction.

A few researchers have recently investigated the interactive effects of two appraisal dimensions associated with discrete emotions on consumer behavior and judgments. For example, Agrawal, Menon and Aaker (2007) showed that for sadness and agitation, the valence dimension and self/other relatedness dimension both interactively affects the effectiveness of health messages. Specifically, they showed that when the primed emotion was positive, the fit between the focal referent in the message (self or family) and discrete emotion enhanced the processing of aversive health information whereas when individuals were primed with a negative emotion, the fit hindered the processing of health information.

Appraisal dimensions based on motivations could interact with other dimensions to result in motivation-matching mechanisms. For example, Labroo and Rucker (2010) proposed a joint model of emotions categorized by two dimensions: motivation orientation (along the dimensions of approach vs. avoid) and valence. This framework provides a richer view of the affect regulation mechanism through showing that when participants were focused on their affective experiences, ‘orientation matching’ of emotions (for example, positive approach emotions (e.g., happiness) provided to regulate negative approach emotions (e.g., anger)) provides more affective regulation benefit than merely providing any positively valenced emotions. In particular, they found that when individuals experienced a negative emotion associated with approach orientation (e.g., angry), they showed more favorable attitudes toward the brand when they were shown and ad which activated positive emotions associated with same approach orientation (e.g., happiness).

Moreover, when emotions with differing appraisals interact, it can coactivate a tendency when one emotion alone would have showed a different tendency. Morales, Wu, and Fitzsimons (2012) showed that fear can elicit an action tendency when combined with disgust. Fear is associated with uncertainty and motivates people to escape from the threat. Fear has been known to be associated with both avoidance behavior and hesitation and freezing behaviors (Smith & Ellsworth, 1985). People show freezing behaviors initially and then take action when the fear eliciting object is unavoidably near. On the other hand, disgust is associated with strong certainty and strong impulse to avoid and distance oneself. Morales, Wu and Fitzsimons (2012) showed that when disgust was incorporated within the fear appeal, it enhanced persuasion and message compliance when fear alone did not. Interactions of appraisals might be a useful way to think about divergent findings or ways to reconcile conflicting findings in the literature.


And finally, (E) how would these emotion appraisals interact with the contextual information from the environment to influence judgments. The various and inconsistent findings on same emotion suggests that studying specific emotion should broaden the scope and deviate from the framework of emotion leading to certain cognitive appraisal that subsequently leads to specific behavior and judgment. An overarching framework should include how motivational, situational factors interact with certain cognitive appraisals and how certain cognitive appraisal could lead to different mindset. For example, cognitive appraisal can lead to different motivations depending on the contexts. Fear is known to lead people to show freezing type behaviors, but it can lead to higher need for affiliation when a situation allows people to have someone or brand nearby (Dunn & Hoegg, 2014). Only through accounting for what type of situation and motivation drives the cognitive appraisals, the different findings could be reconciled.

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Contextual factors could influence not only the nature of event appraisals, but also the intensity of the cognitive appraisals and consequently, the intensity of the felt emotion. Hung and Mukhopadhyay (2011) showed that the visual perspective (actor vs. observer) taken while appraising an event could influence the intensity of the felt emotion. Participants who imagined the same hypothetical situation through an observer’s (vs. actor’s) perspective felt higher intensity embarrassment. While recalling a past experiences or imagining a hypothetical emotional event, participants taking the observer (vs. actor) perspective were more likely to think about how others might evaluate them and therefore felt more intense self-conscious emotions. Such contextual antecedents to cognitive appraisals could have interesting and significant influences on incidental emotions.

Another approach to understand the interaction of contextual information with incidental emotions is through studying compatibility effects. Compatibility of external information with emotional appraisals could have complex outcomes depending on the domain and specific appraisal dimensions. Agrawal, Menon, and Aaker (2007) showed that appraisal dimensions of valence and self-other reference invoked by incidental emotions interact with the referent in a health message presented to participants to produce complex compatibility effects. When the incidental emotion is positive (e.g., happiness, peacefulness), the compatibility between the message referent (self vs. other) and emotional appraisal (self vs. other) fosters the processing of health information presented. In contrast, when the incidental emotion is negative (e.g., anxiety), then the compatibility of message referent and emotional appraisal hinders the processing of health message. Similar[D4] external information and emotional appraisal compatibility effects could be explored to understand consumers’ response to external stimuli in presence of incidental emotions.

Another rich area of enquiry is how other people present (or considered) in the context could vary the nature of the emotion or interact with the incidental emotions to lead to different behavioral outcomes. Presence of other people in the context could interact with the appraisal rendered by an emotion and influence the fluency of the emotional experience and subsequent evaluations. In a series of interesting experiments, Fisher and Dube (2005) presented same-gender and mixed-gender pairs of participants with advertisements that invoked a positively valenced emotion with high agency (e.g., enthusiastic, excited) or low agency (e.g., calm, relaxed). Subsequently measured viewing pleasure and attitudes towards advertisements were significantly lower when males watched a low-agency ad in presence of another male (vs. in presence of a female). This effect was seen only in public ratings of the ad and not in private. These findings indicate a social desirability effect and favorability of context-congruent emotions (for e.g., high agency is a desirable social stereotype for males). Future research could explore similar context-congruency effects of emotional appraisals and how they might influence behavioral outcomes.

Van de Ven, Zeelenberg, and Pieters (2011) show that the nature of envy varies based on the deservedness appraisals of the envy targets. Benign envy is elicited when the others’ superior position is deserved. In contrast, a feeling of malicious envy is elicited when the others’ superior position is appraised as not deserved. The type of envy felt predicts the “Envy Premium” (higher willingness to pay for a product that elicits envy) of the product in such a way that benign envy leads to higher envy premium for a product owned by the superior person whereas malicious envy leads to higher envy premium for a product not owned by the superior person. This finding demonstrates how evaluative information about the context (whether others’ superior position) is deserved or not) changes the nature of the emotional reaction elicited. Future research could extend this finding to apply to incidental emotions[K5].

In addition to the interaction between incidental emotions and contextual information, research could examine how integral emotions and contextual information interacts to influence the subsequent judgments. Duhachek, Agrawal, and Han (2012) examine how the fit between emotions of guilt and shame and message framing influences subsequent message compliance. Specifically, they showed that high or low self efficacy appraisals evoked by guilt or shame interact with gain or loss framed messages to induce the match-based persuasion effects. It has been shown that since guilt-laden people believe that they can fix the problem (i.e., high self-efficacy appraisals), they prefer the message which emphasizes the positive outcomes of following the action described in the ad (i.e., gain frame). In contrast, shame-laden people believe that they cannot fix the problem (i.e., low self-efficacy appraisals), thus leading them to prefer the ad message which highlights the negative outcome of not following the action. Consistent with the proposed theorizing, they found that when guilt (shame) appeals primed with gain- (loss-) framed messages, participants felt greater fluency and showed less intention to binge drink. Studying the impact of context on emotional influence on judgments is a rich avenue for future research. [K6]

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[D1]From Wilcox et al. (2011).

You can find citations for these two papers in Wilcox et al. 2011.


World renowned coping expert Adam can tackle this: Need to bolster this section more. Maybe begin with mood repair…. Or nature of coping changes by nature of emotion. More build up will be good.

[NA3]Da hee, please can you elaborate on our paper here….

[D4]We may add Agrawal and Duhachek (2010) if necessary.

[K5]Meta appraisals. How I feel about how I feel, certainty/confidence/ I am uncertain about my anger. Or validity, I am angry but I know I shouldn’t be.

Adam, pls add to GD

[K6]Also the self literature, the role of self guilt. Or self anger. Mad at past version of myself for what I did.

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Adam, please add to GD.

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