Survey: Emotional Responses

Eli Weber, a graduate student at Bowling Green, has designed a three-question survey about emotional responses to past perceived injuries that ought to yield some interesting results.  Please take the survey here, and perhaps Eli will discuss the results in a few days.

8 Replies to “Survey: Emotional Responses

  1. Eli,
    A couple of thoughts about the survey. First, you might want to include “embarrassed” or “humiliated” as options; that’s what sprung to my mind in a number of those cases.
    Second, are you giving this to non-philosophers? I don’t think that most people would consider resentment to be moralized in the way that the wording of the third prompt implies. That is, I’m not sure people will understand what you’re talking about when you refer to bringing their reaction in line with their reasoning.
    Third, I had a lot of trouble with the second prompt in general. I have trouble imagining this case in which I’ve judged that I don’t deserve tenure but nevertheless want to punch the tenure board. I have to build a number of other things into the story to have that make sense for me, things that might confound your results (depending what they’re for).

  2. David,
    Thanks for the feedback, it’s helpful. In order to avoid biasing results, I’m going to refrain from substantive responses here, but I’ll come back to these concerns once the data collection period is over.

  3. Some of these cases sound strangely familiar! 🙂 Good luck with your survey, Eli. I wonder how much we should worry about self-ascription of emotions, though, for at least two reasons.
    First, someone who didn’t think a lot about fine discriminations between emotion terms might not even have a stable view about, say, the distinction between anger and resentment, or for that matter between envy and jealousy.
    Second, someone who did think a lot about psychological issues might be giving something like a depth psychological explanation. In the unrequited love case, one might think that although the emotion manifests as anger, it’s in some way really jealousy. That might even be correct, as a depth psychological explanation. But what do we say about your question, given that the emotion still bears some paradigmatic marks of anger (most obviously, it has anger’s action tendency: you want to hit somebody).

  4. Hi Eli, a worry I had about the survey is that I couldn’t really imaginatively place myself in most of the described situations. The best I could do was to imagine someone else displaying those signs and ask myself what they might be feeling.

  5. Dan-Glad to see I captured the case well enough that you recognized it. I intended to give credit where it’s due in the analysis, but I may as well acknowledge that one of these cases is taken from the paper you co-authored with Justin on recalcitrant emotion. Hopefully you take imitation to be a form of flattery. 🙂
    I share your worry about self-ascription of emotions, as there’s good evidence that humans are not particularly good at it. Ultimately, my view is that appealing to cases doesn’t help much, because there’s so much disagreement about what emotions are occurring, and fine-grained distinctions of this sort sometimes get overlooked. As you’ll see, the survey results support this worry. But you may be surprised about what other philosophers think about the tenure denial case.
    Worries about whether most people have a stable view about the distinction between anger and resentment are also significant here. I have what I think is a stable view about this, and I imagine you do too. But does my mom, or my wife (who are not philosophers)? I’m not sure. I’d like to see what sorts of results we might get from, say, psychologists, or intro level undergrads, in comparison to philosophers. I suspect that most philosophers take judgmentalism about resentment for granted, and I’m not altogether sure that they should.
    Ellen: Perhaps there are gender biases I hadn’t foreseen here, at least in a couple of cases, so let me know if that’s the basis of your difficulty. That said, I think it is difficult to place oneself in these situations,as you say, since I’m providing a fairly brief description of what is in fact a very complex social situation that, I suspect, is being evaluated mostly at a subconscious level. I’m particularly curious about how the first-personal responses might differ from third-personal ones, since I think we may interpret the emotions of others differently from our own. But that’s another matter for another day. I appreciate the feedback, as it will help me to refine the survey moving forward.

  6. Thanks to everyone for responding to the survey. We’re now at 117 responses, and Survey Monkey won’t let me see beyond the first 100 without giving them money, so we’re effectively at capacity. Feel free to take the survey anyway, if only to view the cases. I’ll be providing the raw data and an analysis of the results soon.

  7. No worries about attribution, Eli — obviously we don’t have a patent on the scenario. I was pleased and amused to recognize it. Will be very interested to see your results; please keep me posted!
    Btw, if you don’t know Andrea Scarantino’s recent work in philosophy of emotion, I highly recommend it. Go look for his webpage, he links some great stuff on cognitivism/judgmentalism, emotions as natural kinds, and related topics.

  8. Eli,
    Here are two disjointed responses to an interesting survey!
    (a) I also had Ellen’s experience, particularly in response to the first scenario.
    (b) For the record, my best guess with respect to the first scenario, and probably also the second, is “frustration.” As an empirical point, I would be surprised if many people were able to maintain the anger-like emotion without in some way representing themselves as having been treated unfairly (if only through something like epistemic akrasia or unintentional make-believe). But that seems like a difficult sort of thing to test.

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