Interest as an Emotion
This chapter reviews research on interest as an emotion. Modern theories in affective science propose that emotions consist of components, such as facial and vocal expressions, subjective experience, motivational functions, and physiological changes. A small body of work suggests that the experience of interest involves changes in facial expressions and vocal expressions. The function of interest is to motivate knowledge-seeking and exploration, which over time builds knowledge and competence. Interest's subjective quality is positive and active, consistent with its approach-oriented function. These components are coherent: subjective, expressive, and behavioral components of interest correlate with each other, indicating an organized emotional response. Finally, many experiments on emotion and aesthetics show that interest is distinct from the similar emotion of happiness/enjoyment: they have different causes and different effects on exploration.
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