JOSEPH P. FORGAS
The quest to understand the role of affect in human affairs represents one of the most important tasks for psychology. Affect seems to influence every aspect of mental life. Our thoughts, judgments, memories, and decisions all seem to be profoundly influenced by how we happen to feel at the time. It is rather surprising that despite the long-standing fascination with the intriguing influence of feelings on thinking and behavior, much of the scientific research on this topic has been done only during the last two decades or so. As a result, the precise nature of affective influences on social thinking and the psychological mechanisms responsible for these effects have not been properly understood until quite recently.
Many philosophers, starting with Plato, have traditionally assumed that affect has a dangerous, invasive quality on rational thinking and behavior. This view has gained renewed currency thanks to the psychoanalytic speculations of Freud and his followers. Unfortunately, scientific psychology had relatively little to say about affective phenomena until quite recently. This was at least partly the consequence of the single-minded pursuit of first the behaviorist and later the cognitivist agenda in our discipline during most of the 20th century. The situation is now rapidly changing. Research on affect has become one of the most rapidly expanding areas in psychology. There is convergent evidence from such disparate fields as social cognition, neuropsychology, and psychophysiology demonstrating that affect is