Now that I'm sad, It's hard to be mad: The role of cognitive appraisals in emotional blunting

Karen Page Winterich, Seunghee Han, Jennifer S. Lerner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


People often encounter one emotion-triggering event after another. To examine how an emotion experience affects those that follow, the current article draws on the appraisal-tendency framework and cognitive appraisal theories of emotion. The emotional blunting hypothesis predicts that a specific emotion can carry over to blunt the experience of a subsequent emotion when defined by contrasting appraisal tendencies. Results support the hypothesis: Inducing sadness blunted subsequent anger (Studies 1 and 2), and inducing anger blunted subsequent sadness (Study 2). Situational (human) agency appraisals mediated the effect of anger (sadness) on subsequent sadness (anger) elicitation (Study 2). Priming agency appraisals (Study 3) also moderated results. Finally, the effect of emotional blunting carried over to cognitive outcomes in each of the three studies. Together, the results reveal the importance of examining the sequence of emotional experiences. Implications for emotion and judgment in applied settings (e.g., the courtroom) are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1467-1483
Number of pages17
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology


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