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Conceptual Issues

Psychologists distinguish among several interrelated constructs that are each associated with the everyday use of the word ‘emotion’. The presumably most fundamental concept is that of ‘affect’. Affect has been characterized as the first stage of an organism's reaction to stimuli, an experiential process that precedes and is possibly independent of those processes labelled as ‘cognitive’ (Zajonc, 2000). Affect is a process in which subjective, evaluative information is derived from the flow of perception. Affects can be consciously experienced as ‘feelings’, and are often described in terms of pleasure, displeasure, and degree of activation. Affective feelings are thought to play a key role in the judgements, preferences, and behavioural action patterns critical for survival.

Affect is closely linked to ‘mood’, which is most often conceptualized ...

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