Surprise is the sense of astonishment, wonder, or amazement that is caused by something sudden or unexpected. The experience of surprise varies with the importance of the outcome, as well as beliefs about the outcome. Some formalists have offered mathematical definitions of surprise (i.e., a comparison of Bayesian priors and posteriors), but there is little consensus about a psychological definition. Some researchers treat surprise as a cognitive assessment based on the probability of an event, whereas others treat it as an emotion, on par with happiness, sadness, anger, disgust, and fear because of its unique pattern of facial expressions. If surprise is an emotion, it is an unusual one; it can be positive or negative, and it dramatically shapes the experience of other emotions.


The concept ...

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