What are emotional mechanisms?

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Alessandro SaliceUniversity College Cork, Irelandand University of Copenhagen, Denmark

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Mikko SalmelaUniversity of Copenhagen, Denmarkand University of Helsinki, Finland

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The article offers an account of emotional mechanisms (EMs). EMs are claimed to be personal, often unconscious, distinctively patterned, mental processes whereby an emotion of a given kind is transmuted into an emotion of a different kind. After preliminary considerations about emotions as felt evaluations, the article identifies three families of emotional mechanisms. These processes are set in motion when a given emotion (for example, envy, shame or anger) generates feelings of inferiority and/or impotence in the subject resulting in a negative sense of self. These feelings prompt an evaluative reappraisal of the emotion’s intentional target. Based on the reappraisal, the subject comes to feel a different kind of emotion, which does not generate feelings of inferiority and/or impotence. Importantly, the second emotion entails a psychological disposition to be collectivised: the subject seeks confirmation of the revised evaluation by sharing the emotion with others. It is argued that these features set EMs apart from other emotion regulatory processes.

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Alessandro SaliceUniversity College Cork, Irelandand University of Copenhagen, Denmark

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Mikko SalmelaUniversity of Copenhagen, Denmarkand University of Helsinki, Finland

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Equal contribution. Authors are listed in alphabetical order.

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