Explaining Away: A Model of Affective Adaptation

  • Wilson T
  • Gilbert D
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Abstract

We propose a model of affective adaptation, the processes whereby affective responses weaken after one or more exposures to emotional events. Drawing on previous research, our approach, represented by the acronym AREA, holds that people attend to self-relevant, unexplained events, react emotionally to these events, explain or reach an understanding of the events, and thereby adapt to the events (i.e., they attend less and have weaker emotional reactions to them). We report tests of new predictions about people’s reactions to pleasurable events and discuss the implications of the model for how people cope with negative events, experience emotion in different cultures, and other topics

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