Interest as an Emotion

Paul J. Silvia

in Exploring the Psychology of Interest

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9780195158557
Published online September 2007 | e-ISBN: 9780199786824 | DOI:

Series: Psychology of Human Motivation

 Interest as an Emotion

Show Summary Details


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.

Keywords: facial expression; vocal expression; subjective experience; happiness; motivation; physiology; affective science; aesthetics

Chapter.  6258 words. 

Subjects: Neuropsychology

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.