Handbook of Cognition and Emotion

By Tim Dalgleish; Mick J. Power | Go to book overview
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Chapter 6
ctives on Affective
Styles and Their Cognitive

Richard J. Davidson
University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, USA


Among the most striking features of human emotion is the variability that is apparent across individuals in the quality and intensity of dispositional mood and emotional reactions to similar incentives and challenges. Some people appear very resilient in the face of life's slings and arrows, while others decompensate quickly. Certain individuals show a dispositional tendency toward positive affect and success, while others are more prone to negative affect and failure. The broad range of differences in these varied affective phenomena has been referred to as “affective style” (Davidson, 1992; 1998). Differences among people in affective style appear to be associated with temperament (Kagan, Reznick & Snidman, 1988), personality (Gross, Sutton & Ketelaar, in press) and vulnerability to psychopathology (Meehl, 1975). Moreover, such differences are not a unique human attribute, but appear to be present in a number of different species (e.g. Davidson, Kalin & Shelton, 1993; Kalin 1993; Kalin, et al., 1998).

In the next section of this chapter, conceptual distinctions among the various components of affective style will be introduced and methodological challenges to their study will be highlighted. The third section will present a brief overview of the anatomy of two basic motivational/emotional systems—the approach and


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