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Abstract / Description
Liking and pleasantness are common concepts in psychological emotion theories, and in everyday language related to emotions. Despite obvious similarities between the terms, several empirical and theoretical notions support the idea that pleasantness and liking are cognitively different phenomena, becoming most evident in the context of emotion regulation and art enjoyment. In this study it was investigated whether liking and pleasantness indicate behaviourally measurable differences, not only in the long timespan of emotion regulation, but already within the initial affective responses to visual and auditory stimuli. A cross-modal affective priming protocol was used to assess whether there is a behavioural difference in the response time when providing an affective rating to a liking or pleasantness task. It was hypothesized that the pleasantness task would be faster as it is known to rely on rapid feature detection. Furthermore, an affective priming effect was expected to take place across the sensory modalities and the presentative and non-presentative stimuli. A linear mixed effect analysis indicated a significant priming effect, as well as an interaction effect between the auditory and visual sensory modalities and the affective rating tasks of liking and pleasantness: While liking was rated fastest across modalities, it was significantly faster in vision compared to audition. No significant modality dependent differences between the pleasantness ratings were detected. The results demonstrate that liking and pleasantness rating scales refer to separate processes already within the short time scale of a one to two seconds. Furthermore, the affective priming effect indicates that an affective information transfer takes place across modalities and the types of stimuli applied. Unlike hypothesized, liking rating took place faster across the modalities. This is interpreted to support emotion theoretical notions where liking and disking are crucial properties of emotion perception and homeostatic self-referential information, possibly overriding pleasantness-related feature analysis. Conclusively, the findings provide empirical evidence for a conceptual delineation of common affective processes.