Emotional extremes inhibit emotional clarity
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Emotions are embodied psychological experiences that have both physical and cognitive components. That is, emotional arousal is typically associated with some level of simultaneous physiological arousal, but in order for a discrete emotional experience to fully take shape, cognitive processes (attention, categorization, memories, expectations) must (1) interpret arousal in order to (2) label it with specific emotion words and emotional meaning (Barrett, 2014). The present research investigates and finds evidence for the hypothesis that the arousal endogenous to affective experiences disrupts the cognitive processes associated with constructing discrete emotions, much in the same way that arousal inhibits cognitive performance generally: curvilinearly (Yerkes-Dodson, 1908). Results indicate that emotional extremes (very weak and very strong emotions) are associated with low emotional clarity, whereas emotions experienced with a moderate amount of intensity are associated with high levels of emotional clarity. Furthermore, and as expected, the curvilinear relationship between emotional intensity and emotional clarity is mediated by physiological arousal.