Distinguishing between emotion and nonemotion: Judgments about experience

Stephanie A. Shields

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The conceptual distinction between emotion and nonemotion subjective states was investigated in a series of three studies. Three questions were addressed. First, is there high agreement among people in identifying labels for subjective states as either emotion or nonemotion? Second, in judgments of the similarity of subjective states is the emotion-nonemotion distinction more or less salient than other properties of experience? Third, what criteria are used to distinguish conceptually between emotion and nonemotion states? Results indicated that, for many feeling states, there is no substantial agreement as to whether the state should be considered emotion or nonemotion, that the affective dimension of experience is not as salient as are other specific properties of experience (physiological arousal, activity level, valence), and that, in general, people express their individual judgment of emotion-nonemotion on the basis of some nonspecific combination of physiological arousal and character of cognitive state.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)355-369
Number of pages15
JournalMotivation and Emotion
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 1984

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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