Emotions in Digital Worlds



Guitar, A. E., Glass, D. J., Geher, G., & Suvak, M. K. Situation-specific emotional states: Testing Nesse and Ellsworth’s (2009) model of emotions for situations that arise in goal pursuit using virtual world software. (2018). Current Psychology, 1-15. 

Abstract: Scholars have suggested that emotions are evolved adaptations that increase fitness by adjusting the response of the individual to the specific situation. Thus, the particular emotion experienced by an individual should be dependent on whether the situation is a threat/opportunity, in the physical/social domain, and if the outcome is a success/failure. Nesse and Ellsworth (2009) created a model around this idea that predicts which emotions should arise in these particular situations. The current study empirically tested this model using the virtual simulation program Second Life. 50 (44 female, 6male, Mage = 21.10 years, Age range: 18–30 years) participants’ avatars were placed in socially and physically threatening and opportunistic situations; further, participants were randomly assigned to succeed or fail at each task. After completing each task, participants rated the degree to which they experienced the emotions predicted by the model to arise in these situations. Results found the social opportunity, physical threat, and social threat conditions matched those emotions predicted by the model.