Unconscious Emotion Author(s): Piotr Winkielman and Kent C. Berridge Source: Current Directions in Psychological Science, Vol. 13, No.

3 (Jun., 2004), pp. 120-123 Published by: Sage Publications, Inc. on behalf of Association for Psychological Science Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20182927 . Accessed: 06/10/2011 16:39
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CURRENT DIRECTIONS

IN PSYCHOLOGICAL

SCIENCE

Unconscious
Piotr Winkielman and Kent C. Berridge and University of California, San Diego,

Emotion
University of Michigan

ABSTRACT?Conscious a central that and necessary also

feelings can

have

traditionally of emotion. unconscious. reactions to in

been Here We can

viewed we argue

as

person

is attentive

and motivated

to describe

his

or her

feelings

cor

ingredient be genuinely and negative inaccessible feelings still

rectly (Berridge & Winkielman,
Wilbarger, drive in press). Such an and the person's behavior

2003; Winkielman,
process may reactions,

Berridge, &
nevertheless even while

emotion that

describe be elicited Despite

emotional

evidence subliminally the absence induced judgments evidence gesting nated

positive and of remain subjective

introspection. cases, people's they

remaining the existence

inaccessible of genuinely

physiological to conscious awareness. unconscious emotions.

In short, we

propose

such

subliminally preference consume. This sug origi idea affective underlie the of

affective and is that prior even

reactions the amount with underlying for

influence of beverage

consistent systems to

evolutionary basic conscious supported subcortical research

considerations affective awareness. reactions The from systems

THE TRADITIONAL VIEW: EMOTION AS A CONSCIOUS EXPERIENCE
The are that emotions conscious has been shared assumption always some of the most influential in history. In his famous by psychologists article "What Is an Emotion," that emotion is a James (1884) proposed of bodily a conscious This forms perception changes. perception feeling, such or as which pleasure Conscious states. is a necessary and pain, feeling Without out of both simple affective states, ingredient and more complex such as love emotions, is exactly what distinguishes emotion from it, "we of which find that we the have nothing can be left con

systems

unconscious neuroscience basic relations emotion, "liking" and and

emotion indicating reactions.

is also that

by evidence brain

More

is needed and

to clarify unconscious

differences their

between

conscious

even un mechanisms. However, underlying state the current der it appears that processes of knowledge, can become conscious pro underlying feelings from decoupled cesses emotional in genuinely reactions, underlying resulting unconscious emotion. automaticity; consciousness; emotion; neu

pride.

other behind, stituted

mental no

'mind-stuff

emotion

KEYWORDS?affect; roscience

were

. . ." too, emotions (p. 193). For Freud (1950), even causes if their underlying conscious, always were not: "It is of an emotion that we surely of the essence it, i.e. that it should enter consciousness" (pp. 109-110). are conscious The that affective reactions assumption shared in the

themselves sometimes should feel

To say

that people

are conscious

of their

own

emotions

sounds

like

a

most term

are feelings, so how could one have feelings that are not felt? Of course, people sometimes about may be mistaken or may not know the cause of their emotion feel a particular why they as when seems no for what emotion, they feel anxious particular reason. On occasion, construe their own people may even incorrectly truism. After all, emotions emotional many state, as when they that they angrily deny that the emotion itself motivation So, and are angry. But

is widely on emotion. literature how contemporary Explaining use the term "affect," researchers said that the Frijda (1999) to hedonic refers the experience of "primarily experience, and pain" (p. 194). Clore Emotions Are

pleasure his

titled one of (1994) unequivocally Never Unconscious" and argued that "Why is a necessary not a sufficient) condition subjective feeling (although In short, psychologists for emotion. have past and present generally essays that a conscious of affect and feeling emotion. is a primary or even a necessary in

agreed gredient

psychologists and into view. view goes

presume that with light

conscious, brought tional Our

proper

is intrinsically it can be attention, goes the tradi

the full

of awareness.

at least,

IMPLICIT EMOTION AND UNCONSCIOUS AFFECT
it is now widely that cognitive and processes By contrast, accepted can be unconscious states or implicit below (occurring awareness) or attention So, it may not require much (occurring without intention). or emo of a leap to consider the possibility of unconscious implicit

a bit further. We may remain

suggest entirely

that under unconscious,

some

conditions the

an emotional

process

even when

Address chology,

correspondence

to Piotr

of California, University or CA 92093-0109, e-mail: pwinkiel@ucsd.edu, of Psychology, of Michigan, 525 Berridge, Department University Ann East University, MI e-mail: 48109-1109, Arbor, berridge? Jolla, umich.edu.

Winkielman, San Diego,

Department 9500 Gilman

of Psy Dr., La to Kent

tion. As Kihlstrom (1999) put it,
Paralleling conscious, awareness tion", by un in the cognitive the usage of these descriptors to the person's emotion" refers conscious "explicit or mood emo of an emotion, state; "implicit feeling, to changes or in experience, refers contrast, thought,

120 Copyright ?

2004 American Psychological Society

Volume 13?Number 3

Piotr Winkielman

and Kent

C. Berridge

action

that are attributable conscious

to one's awareness of Conscious

emotional of that state, Affective

state,

independent

Unconscious to Change We agreed emotion view of conscious

Emotional Behavior that stronger requires

Reactions

Strong was

Enough

of his or her Unconscious Research

(p. 432) Reactions the traditional in a limited

evidence that

needed.

Proof are

of unconscious to report the presence should for be the a

Elicitation advances

in the past

few years

"unconscious by demonstrating unconscious causation. Several sented below awareness felt. An can

challenge at least emotion," studies have

sense

feeling of an emotional strong

showing at the same reaction.

participants

unable reveals reaction

time

their behavior the emotional with some

shown

that stimuli that

pre

elicit

an affective

reaction

is itself

consciously

is subliminal of the mere induction example to repeatedly that is, a positive effect, exposure response presented were first items. In one study, some participants subliminally exposed to several of random neutral stimuli visual pat consisting repeated terns. Later, those participants state?than stimuli reported participants that had not in a better mood?a being who had been subliminally been repeatedly presented in self changes of pos spiders

we assessed evidence, participants' pouring of a novel beverage and drinking after they were subliminally exposed to several & Winkielman, emotional facial expressions (Berridge et al., in press). The general Winkielman of these ex 2003; procedure can be seen in Figure were first asked 1. Participants if they periments were tional thirsty. Next, they were subliminally or angry) exposed embedded to several emo in a cognitive face as neutral

to change enough To obtain such individual.

Ideally, behavior

consequences

conscious exposed

feeling to neutral

In other studies, (Monahan, Murphy, & Zajonc, 2000). have been elicited reported mood presentation by subliminal itive or negative of snakes such as pictures and images, But asserting from asserting conscious search emotions relied presence So causes even havior? some on we cause

presented to phobic individuals (Ohman, Flykt, & Lundqvist, 2000).
that subliminal that emotional stimuli reactions 2003; may emotion can is different ever be un themselves Kihlstrom,

(happy, a clearly to classify task requiring visible participants or female. some participants rated their male afterward, Immediately on scales and then were given emotional assessing experience feelings a novel to consume lemon-lime and evaluate. Other partici beverage pants ings. consumed Specifically, a cup and evaluated in the beverage before were rating asked their feel to pour from

expressions

neutral,

themselves

(Berridge & Winkielman, still fits just mentioned are caused, introspective of emotion

into the conventional conscious. In fact,

1999). The re view that once these studies

the cup, whereas sip of the beverage dimensions, In both liminal

1, participants Study from a pitcher of the beverage and were asked in Study 2, participants from a prepared value. feelings faces, were not cup and then

then drink

to take a small it on various

rate

they are always

including studies,

monetary conscious of emotional

the question of emotion,

to demonstrate the reports of conscious feelings once it was unconsciously caused. not only of the remains: Can one be unconscious but also of one's own emotional enough the answer reaction to alter itself? one's be reaction our lab can is intense suggest have that

influenced

by

sub

if that emotional Studies conditions, that drive feelings from

of whether partic regardless on a to negative rated their feelings scale from positive ipants simple or from or on a multi-item to low arousal, mood scale asking high or irritation. about such as contentment That emotions, is, specific presentation participants happy sions. did not feel more than after they feel more positive subliminally negative after subliminally neutral expressions presented expres than of

is yes.

Under

people

reactions conscious

judgment

subliminally even and behavior, these reactions.

emotional triggered in the absence of any

expressions Nor did

presented after angry

accompanying

after neutral the drink

Yet participants' and ratings expressions. consumption were influenced those subliminal by stimuli?especially

Uncorrected In an studies Chinese angry pants scious initial

and Unremembered attempt to demonstrate participants' preceded were told not

Emotional unconscious ratings by

Reactions emotion, stimuli, a series such happy of as or

examined ideographs, faces in those feelings,

of neutral

SUBLIMINAL AFFECT INDUCTION PHASE

AFFECTIVE REACTION MEASUREMENT PHASE

(Winkielman, studies and

Zajonc, asked to use

subliminally & Schwarz, to monitor their feelings

presented 1997). Some

changes as a source instructions "contaminated" 1) or music

partici in their con of their informed by playing ir in

preference ratings. those participants relevant factors,

Specifically, experimental that their feelings be might as hidden pictures (Study

% Pour and consume

a novel drink

such

BEHAVIOR MEASURES FEELING MEASURES

the background such instructions eliminate the (Study 2). Typically, on evaluative of conscious influence feelings judgments (Clore, 1994). even for participants told to disregard their feelings, the However, subliminally presented stimuli. This presented angry faces happy decreased to correct faces increased and of subliminally the neutral that in not what Subliminal Expression Visible gender Neutral Face task classification

failure

preference for invalid

ratings

*
Rate current mood and arousal

participants might the first place. Indeed, remember experiencing

not have after

experienced the experiment, changes Still,

feelings any conscious

indicates reactions did about

(16msec)_(400
1. Sequence

ms)
of events in research facial

participants when asked is not

any mood rating that

Fig.

the they had felt during A could argue skeptic immediately to remember failed whether these after

task.

memory

infallible.

subliminal the

conscious had participants feelings to emotional faces, but simply exposure to debate later. Thus, it is open feelings unconscious emotion.

the impact of sub investigating are First, participants expressions. to several expressions of the same valence subliminally exposed (happy, or angry). The expressions are hidden by a visible neutral face neutral, as male or female. that participants Second, pour participants classify and drink a beverage their conscious and report (in counter feelings liminally presented emotional balanced order).

studies

demonstrate

Volume 13?Number

3 121

Unconscious

Emotion

when poured their

participants significantly cup after were than

were more

thirsty. drink from

Specifically, the pitcher angry

thirsty participants and drank more from (Study 1). Thirsty as much for the drink 2). The modulating acted

activates

opioid

receptors structure can

reward-related reactions activates most sisting havioral 2003; suggests structures basic

happy

faces

than after

faces

to sugar other

is injected into the nucleus accumbens (a at the base of the front of the brain). Liking even be enhanced a drug that by injecting into of the brain Such stem, which is perhaps reflect the

participants after role happy of

also willing after angry that

to pay about expressions unconscious mechanisms rather

twice (Study

receptors

component

the brain.

examples

the per be

thirst basic

indicates

emotional

reactions

importance emotional LeDoux,

of early-evolved reactions

neurocircuitry mammalian

in generating brains

through

to incentives, anisms kielman, In

biopsychological such as a drink,

that determine through cognitive (Berridge

reactions mech & Win

in modern evidence

(Berridge,

than

1996).

In short,

from affective are mediated

neuroscience largely by brain that these awareness.

influencing 2003; summary,

Winkielman the

of the interpretation et al., 2002). studies faces just can cause described

stimulus

that basic deep might

affective the

reactions cortex,

below not be

raising accessible

show

that reactions

subliminally that at alter the of

reactions

intrinsically

the possibility to conscious

presented

emotional

affective

without behavior, consumption moment the affective reactions emotional participants presentation of memory. affect to alter attending faces who on consumption

conscious eliciting are caused. Because behavior was observed after

feelings the

KEY QUESTIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH
As some reasons there are good theoretical why argued, we suggest and that our emotional reactions be unconscious, might an recent evidence However, example. empirical actually provides to be addressed issues need critical several by future research. we have The studies discussed that here focused only on basic liking-disliking, emotion distinctions joy, etc.). is so it is possible simply associated

influence also

for those

rated

their feelings these results

immediately cannot results

the subliminal by failures unconscious

of the faces, Thus,

be explained demonstrate

we propose sense

that these

in the strong behavior, to their

of the term?affect are simply

but

that people

that is powerful enough not aware of, even when

the crucial valence,

property rather

of unconscious than qualitative anger, circuitry disgust, may

feelings.

positive-negative with evidence qualitative reveal categorical

emotion

(fear,

From and Neuroscience Evolution Support From the standpoint of evolution and neuroscience, there are good reasons can to suppose reaction that at least some forms of emotional exist independently to have with stimuli by animals, not of subjective conscious correlates. Evolutionarily speaking, a late achievement affective reactions and reactions are to

However, of some studies

suggests

that subcortical

be capable to

differentiation. activation

For example,

human

differential facial

consciously 1998). sions different experience, deserving Studies

presented

of the amygdala of fear versus expressions that and subliminally can reactions, implicit in emotion" exist

neuroimaging in response anger (Whalen,

the ability compared emotional shared species humans. react feelings The

feelings to have 1996).

is probably behavioral

If future of fear,

research anger,

shows

the ability (LeDoux, including involve

disgust,

sadness

expres presented create qualitatively all without affective its conscious processes sense. and such

Basic

affective and fish,

reptiles

at least

widely in some in to

physiological then the

and behavioral indeed

there may

may The

conscious

awareness was

original

function to positive

of emotion

comparable to allow the organism events, and

to that

label

"unconscious measure could be

strongest behavior, to address

that simultaneously of emotion

psychophysiology, useful 2001). affective

appropriately not might neurocircuitry

or negative been for basic required. affective

conscious

self-reports issues

particularly

always

have

(Winkielman, studies

Berntson, here

& Cacioppo, employed basic

needed

responses,

such

as a to a struc as

The

discussed presented

stimuli,

such

to a pleasant sensation reaction "liking" is largely contained stimulus, threatening tures that lie below the cortex, such as amygdala, LeDoux, carry pared more out with hypothalamus, 1996). limited These and even subcortical lower

or a fear in emotional the nucleus stem evolved

reaction brain

subliminally without whether value

facial

expressions,

to influence

emotional

behavior address negative

accumbens, 2003; and may com which limited affective is

conscious studies might Future eliciting feelings. or more their positive stimuli that derive complex

brain

(Berridge, early

structures

operations the elaborate human in conscious

that are cortex emotional

essentially at the top of the brain, feelings. Yet

preconscious, even basic

can also influence environment cultural from a person's A without emotional behavior any accompanying feelings. eliciting concerns the above stimuli whether related presented question can also and behavior emotional of awareness threshold change feelings. suggest that under But elicited some conditions many

involved

subcortical reactions. neuroscience such and infants

structures A dramatic studies

on their own are capable demonstration with anencephalic of this point human

of some comes infants.

without influencing physiology here The studies described emotional reactions states are are genuinely conscious,

from affective The brain of

unconscious. even when

obviously with

emotional stimuli

subliminal

lacking the entire cortex. Yet sweet tastes of sugar still elicit positive cluding bitter facial expressions of liking from anencephalic infants, whereas tastes elicit negative of disgust facial expressions (Steiner, 1973). Even in normal for brains, the most effective "brain tweaks"

is congenitally malformed, possessing only a brain stem, at the top or front of the brain, in all structures nearly

when

et al., 2000). What et al., 2000; ?hman determines (Monahan a basic feel is accompanied reaction emotional by conscious to be un reaction for even a strong emotional ings? Is it possible is are the neural mechanisms emotion What conscious? by which conscious? How do behavioral differ? of practical clinicians, emotions. reactions to many importance concerns the meaning The does existence not mean cake." At emotion re consequences of conscious and

made

so far

unconscious Finally, searchers, reports conscious of

reactions a question as as well their own

discovered involve have deep shown

and related affective reactions all enhancing liking the cortex. Thus, studies below animal brain structures that liking for sweetness increases after a drug that

of people's but un of verifiable

emotional "icing

We use the term "liking" scious feeling of pleasure.

to indicate

an unconscious

reaction,

not a con

are merely We believe

on the emotional

least,

that subjective feelings that is not our view. place in emotion

that self-reports

of feelings

have

a major

122 Volume 13?Number

3

Piotr Winkielman

and Kent

C. Berridge

research should

and not

treatment. themselves and

However,

it is also

clear

that psychologists A combination and ani

Frijda, N.H.

limit

to subjective

experiences.

of approaches mal affective

tion between

from psychology and human will best lead to understanding neuroscience, conscious and unconscious emotions. techniques,

In D. Kahneman, E. (1999). Emotions and hedonic experience. & N. Schwarz (Eds.), Well-being: The foundations of hedonic New York: Russell Sage Foundation. psychology (pp. 190-210). Diener, (1884). What is an emotion. Mind, 9, 188-205.

the rela

James, W Kihlstrom,

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Berridge, Damasio,

J.L., Murphy, S.T., & Zajonc, R.B. (2000). Subliminal Monahan, sure: Specific, general, and diffuse effects. Psychological 462-466. Ohman, A., Flykt, A., & Lundqvist, D.

expo 11,

making Wilson, T.D.

(1999). The feeling of what happens: Body of consciousness. New York: Harcourt Brace. (2002). to ourselves: Discovering Strangers MA: Harvard University Press.

the adaptive

un

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emotion: Evolu (2000). Unconscious data and neuropsychological & G. Ahern (Eds.), Cognitive New York: Oxford University Observation on normal and on Oral Sensation and Per

(2000). Feeling and thinking: Closing the debate over the in of affect. In J.P Forgas (Ed.), Feeling and thinking: The role dependence of affect in social cognition (pp. 31-58). New York: Cambridge University

Press.

J.E. (1973). The gustofacial response: newborn infants. Symposium anencephalic ception, 4, 254-278. vigilance, amygdala. and

P.J. (1998). Fear, Whalen, studies of the human

Initial neuroimaging ambiguity: Current Directions in Psychological

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3 123

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