Phenomenology, Behaviors, and Goals Differentiate Discrete Emotions

Ira J. Roseman, Cynthia Wiest, Tamara S. Swartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

668 Scopus citations


Prior research has typically attempted to distinguish one emotion from another by identifying distinctive expressions, physiology, and subjective qualities. Recent theories claim emotions can also be differentiated by distinctive action tendencies, actions, and emotivational goals. To test hypotheses from both older and more recent theories, 100 Ss were asked to recall experiences of particular negative emotions and answer questions concerning what they felt, thought, felt like doing, actually did, and wanted. Results support hypotheses specifying characteristic responses for fear, sadness, distress, frustration, disgust, dislike, anger, regret, guilt, and shame. The findings indicate that discrete emotions have distinctive goals and action tendencies, as well as thoughts and feelings. In addition, they provide empirical support for hypothesized emotion states that have received insufficient attention from researchers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)206-221
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1994
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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