Feelings don't come easy: Studies on the effortful nature of feelings

A. Kron, Yaacov Schul, Asher Cohen, Ran R. Hassin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We propose that experience of emotion is a mental phenomenon, which requires resources. This hypothesis implies that a concurrent cognitive load diminishes the intensity of feeling since the 2 activities are competing for the same resources. Two sets of experiments tested this hypothesis. The first line of experiments (Experiments 1-4) examined the intensity of participants' feelings as they performed a secondary (backward counting) task. The results showed that the intensity of both negative and positive feelings diminished under a cognitive load and that this attenuation of feeling was not mediated by either distraction from external stimuli or demand characteristics. In the second set of experiments (Experiments 5-6), load was created by asking the participants to focus on the feelings. Even in these circumstances, the participants who were under load reported a lower intensity of feeling than those who were not under load. We explain these findings in terms of a resource-dependent model of emotional experience. Possible implications of our findings for a broader class of phenomenological experiences are succinctly discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)520-534
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognitive load
  • Effort
  • Emotions
  • Feelings
  • Resources

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • General Psychology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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