How Are You Feeling? Revisiting the Quantification of Emotional Qualia

Assaf Kron, Ariel Goldstein, Daniel Hyuk Joon Lee, Katherine Gardhouse, Adam Keith Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Numerous emotion researchers have asked their study participants to attend to the distinct feelings of arousal and valence, and self-report and physiological data have supported the independence of the two. We examined whether this dissociation reflects introspection about distinct emotional qualia or the way in which valence is measured. With either valence (Experiment 1) or arousal (Experiment 2) as the primary focus, when valence was measured using a bipolar scale (ranging from negative to positive), it was largely dissociable from arousal. By contrast, when two separate unipolar scales of pleasant and unpleasant valence were used, their sum was equivalent to feelings of arousal and its autonomic correlates. The association (or dissociation) of valence and arousal was related to the estimation (or nonestimation) of mixed-valence experiences, which suggests that the distinction between valence and arousal may reflect less the nature of emotional experience and more how it is measured. These findings further encourage use of unipolar valence scales in psychological measurement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1503-1511
Number of pages9
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • emotions
  • motivation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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