Skip to main content Accessibility help

Negative emotions in art reception: Refining theoretical assumptions and adding variables to the Distancing-Embracing model

  • Winfried Menninghaus (a1), Valentin Wagner (a1), Julian Hanich (a2), Eugen Wassiliwizky (a1), Thomas Jacobsen (a3) and Stefan Koelsch (a4)...


While covering all commentaries, our response specifically focuses on the following issues: How can the hypothesis of emotional distancing (qua art framing) be compatible with stipulating high levels of felt negative emotions in art reception? Which concept of altogether pleasurable mixed emotions does our model involve? Can mechanisms of predictive coding, social sharing, and immersion enhance the power of our model?



Hide All
Adler, J. M. & Hershfield, H. E. (2012) Mixed emotional experience is associated with and precedes improvements in psychological well-being. PLoS ONE 7(4):e3563. Available at:
Bartsch, A. (2007) Meta-emotion and genre-preference. What makes horror films and tear-jerkers enjoyable? In: Narration and spectatorship in moving images, ed. Anderson, J. D. & Anderson, N. Fisher, pp. 124–35. Cambridge Scholars.
Bartsch, A. (2008) Meta-emotion: How films and music videos communicate emotions about emotions. Projections 2(1):4559.
Bartsch, A., Appel, M. & Storch, D. (2010) Predicting emotions and meta-emotions at the movies: The role of the need for affect in audiences' experience of horror and drama. Communication Research 37(2):167–90. Available at:
Bartsch, A. & Viehoff, R. (2003) Meta-emotion: In search of a meta-account for entertainment by negative emotions. SPIEL 22(2):309–28.
Brattico, E., Bogert, B., Alluri, V., Tervaniemi, M., Eerola, T. & Jacobsen, T. (2016) It's sad but I like it: The neural dissociation between musical emotions and liking in experts and laypersons. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 9:676. Available at:
Carrera, P. & Oceja, L. (2007) Drawing mixed emotions: Sequential or simultaneous experiences? Cognition and Emotion 21(2):422–41. Available at:
Djikic, M., Oatley, K. & Peterson, J. B. (2006) The bitter-sweet labor of emoting: The linguistic comparison of writers and physicists. Creativity Research Journal 18(2):191–97. Available at:
Djikic, M., Oatley, K., Zoeterman, S. & Peterson, J. B. (2009) On being moved by art: How reading fiction transforms the self. Creativity Research Journal 21(1):2429. Available at:
Feldman Barrett, L. (2004) Feelings or words? Understanding the content in self-report ratings of experienced emotion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 87(2):266–81. Available at:
Fokkinga, S. F. & Desmet, P. M. A. (2012) Darker shades of joy: The role of negative emotion in rich product experiences. Design Issues 28(4):4256. Available at:
Fokkinga, S. F. & Desmet, P. M. A. (2013) Ten ways to design for disgust, sadness, and other enjoyments: A design approach to enrich product experiences with negative emotions. International Journal of Design 7(1):1936.
Frijda, N. H. (1988) The laws of emotion. American Psychologist 43(5):349–58. Available at:
Frijda, N. H. & Sundararajan, L. (2007) Emotion refinement: A theory inspired by Chinese poetics. Perspectives on Psychological Science 2(3):227–41. Available at:
Gerger, G., Leder, H. & Kremer, A. (2014) Context effects on emotional and aesthetic evaluations of artworks and IAPS pictures. Acta Psychologica 151(1):174–83. Available at:
Goncharov, I. (1859/2009) Oblomov, trans. Hogarth, C. J.. World Library Classics.
Gross, J. J. & Levenson, R. W. (1997) Hiding feelings: The acute effects of inhibiting negative and positive emotion. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 106(1):95103. Available at:
Hanich, J., Wagner, V., Shah, M., Jacobsen, T. & Menninghaus, W. (2014) Why we like to watch sad films: The pleasure of being moved in aesthetic experiences. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts 8(2):130–43. Available at:
Hoemann, K., Gendron, M. & Feldman Barrett, L. (2017) Mixed emotions in the predictive brain. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences 15:5157. Available at:
Ishizu, T. & Zeki, S. (2017) The experience of beauty derived from sorrow. Human Brain Mapping 38(8):4185–200. Available at:
Jakobson, R. (1973) Two aspects of language: Metaphor and metonymy. In: European literary theory and practice: From existential phenomenology to structuralism, ed. Gras, V. W., pp. 119–32. Dell.
Kantor-Martynuska, J. & Horabik, J. (2015) Granularity of emotional responses to music: The effect of musical expertise. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts 9(3):235–47. Available at:
Knobloch-Westerwick, S. & Keplinger, C. (2006) Mystery appeal: Effects of uncertainty and resolution on the enjoyment of mystery. Media Psychology 8(3):193212. Available at:
Knoop, C. A., Wagner, V., Jacobsen, T. & Menninghaus, W. (2016) Mapping the aesthetic space of literature “from below.Poetics 56:3549. Available at:
Kracauer, S. (1995) The mass ornament: Weimar essays, trans. Levin, T. Y.. Harvard.
Kuehnast, M., Wagner, V., Wassiliwizky, E., Jacobsen, T. & Menninghaus, W. (2014) Being moved: Linguistic representation and conceptual structure. Frontiers in Psychology: Emotion Science 5:1242. Available at:
Lambie, J. A. & Marcel, A. J. (2002) Consciousness and the varieties of emotion experience: A theoretical framework. Psychological Review 109(2):219–59. Available at:
Lange, K. (1901) Das Wesen der Kunst. Grundzüge einer realistischen Kunstlehre [The nature of art. Outline of a realistic theory of art]. Grote.
Larsen, J. T. & Green, J. D. (2013) Evidence for mixed feelings of happiness and sadness from brief moments in time. Cognition and Emotion 27(8):1469–77. Available at:
Larsen, J. T., Hemenover, S. H., Norris, C. J. & Cacioppo, J. T. (2003) Turning adversity to advantage: On the virtues of the coactivation of positive and negative emotions. In: A psychology of human strengths: Fundamental questions and future directions for a positive psychology, ed. Aspinwall, L. G. & Staudinger, U. M., pp. 211–25. American Psychological Association.
Larsen, J. T. & McGraw, A. P. (2011) Further evidence for mixed emotions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 100(6):1095–110. Available at:
Lazarus, R. S. (1991) Progress on a cognitive-motivational-relational theory of emotion. American Psychologist 46(8):819–34. Available at:
Leder, H. & Nadal, M. (2014) Ten years of a model of aesthetic appreciation and aesthetic judgments: The aesthetic episode – Developments and challenges in empirical aesthetics. British Journal of Psychology 105(4):443–64. Available at:
Lindquist, K. A. & Feldman Barrett, L. (2008) Emotional complexity. In: Handbook of emotions, 3rd edition, ed. Lewis, M., Haviland-Jones, J. M. & Barrett, L. F., pp. 513–30. Guilford.
Martindale, C. (1984) The pleasures of thought: A theory of cognitive hedonics. The Journal of Mind and Behaviour 5(1):4980.
Maslow, A. H., Frager, R., Fadiman, J., McReynolds, C. & Cox, R. (1970) Motivation and personality, vol. 2. Harper & Row.
Menninghaus, W., Wagner, V., Hanich, J., Wassiliwizky, E., Kuehnast, M. & Jacobsen, T. (2015b) Towards a psychological construct of being moved. PLoS ONE 10(6):e0128451. Available at:
Menninghaus, W., Wagner, V., Wassiliwizky, E., Jacobsen, T. & Knoop, C. A. (2017) The emotional and aesthetic powers of parallelistic diction. Poetics. Available at:
Oatley, K. (1994) A taxonomy of the emotions of literary response and a theory of identification in fictional narrative. Poetics 23(1–2):5374. Available at:
Oceja, L. & Carrera, P. (2009) Beyond a single pattern of mixed emotional experience: Sequential, prevalence, inverse, and simultaneous. European Journal of Psychological Assessment 25(1):5867. Available at:
Oliver, M. B. (1993) Exploring the paradox of the enjoyment of sad films. Human Communication Research 19(3):315–42. Available at:
Oliver, M. B. & Bartsch, A. (2010) Appreciation as audience response: Exploring entertainment gratifications beyond hedonism. Human Communication Research 36(1):5381. Available at:
Oliver, M. B. & Woolley, J. K. (2010) Tragic and poignant entertainment: The gratifications of meaningfulness as emotional response. In: The Routledge handbook of emotions and mass media, ed. Döverin, K., Scheve, C. von & Konijn, E. A., pp. 134–47. Routledge.
Oosterwijk, S., Lindquist, K. A., Adebayo, M. & Feldman Barrett, L. (2016) The neural representation of typical and atypical experiences of negative images: Comparing fear, disgust and morbid fascination. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 11(1):1122. Available at:
Rimé, B., Delfosse, C. & Corsini, S. (2005) Emotional fascination: Responses to viewing pictures of September 11 attacks. Cognition and Emotion 19(6):923–32. Available at:
Scherer, K. R. (2005) What are emotions? And how can they be measured? Social Science Information – Sur Les Sciences Sociales 44(4):695729. Available at:
Schindler, I., Hosoya, G., Menninghaus, W., Beermann, U., Wagner, V., Eid, M. & Scherer, K. R. (2017) Measuring aesthetic emotions: A review of the literature and a new assessment tool. PLoS ONE 12(6):e0178899. Available at:
Schubert, T. W., Zickfeld, J. H., Seibt, B. & Fiske, A. P. (2016) Moment-to-moment changes in feeling moved match changes in closeness, tears, goosebumps, and warmth: Time series analyses. Cognition and Emotion. Available at:
Shuman, V., Sander, D. & Scherer, K. R. (2013) Levels of valence. Frontiers in Psychology 4:261. Available at:
Silvia, P. J. (2005a) What is interesting? Exploring the appraisal structure of interest. Emotion 5(1):89102. Available at:
Silvia, P. J. (2010) Confusion and interest: The role of knowledge emotions in aesthetic experience. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts 4(2):7580. Available at:
Smidt, K. E. & Suvak, M. K. (2015) A brief, but nuanced, review of emotional granularity and emotion differentiation research. Current Opinion in Psychology 3:4851. Available at:
Tan, E. S. H. (2000) Emotion, art, and the humanities. In: Handbook of emotions, 2nd edition, vol. 3, ed. Lewis, M. D., pp. 116–34. Guilford.
Tokaji, A. (2003) Research for determinant factors and features of emotional responses of “kandoh” (the state of being emotionally moved). Japanese Psychological Research 45(4):235–49. Available at:
Van de Cruys, S. & Wagemans, J. (2011) Putting reward in art: A tentative prediction error account of visual art. Iperception 2(9):1035–62. Available at:
Visch, V., Tan, E. S. H. & Molenaar, D. (2010) The emotional and cognitive effect of immersion in film viewing. Cognition and Emotion 24(8):1439–45. Available at:
Vuoskoski, J. K. & Eerola, T. (2017) The pleasure evoked by sad music is mediated by feelings of being moved. Frontiers in Psychology 8:439. Available at:
Wagner, V., Menninghaus, W., Hanich, J. & Jacobsen, T. (2014) Art schema effects on affective experience: The case of disgusting images. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts 8(2):120–29. Available at:
Wassiliwizky, E., Jacobsen, T., Heinrich, J., Schneiderbauer, M. & Menninghaus, W. (2017a) Tears falling on goosebumps: Co-occurrence of emotional lacrimation and emotional piloerection indicates a psychophysiological climax in emotional arousal. Frontiers in Psychology 8:41. Available at:
Wassiliwizky, E., Koelsch, S., Wagner, V., Jacobsen, T. & Menninghaus, W. (2017b) The emotional power of poetry: Neural circuitry, psychophysiology and compositional principles. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 12(8):1229–40. Available at:
Wassiliwizky, E., Wagner, V., Jacobsen, T. & Menninghaus, W. (2015) Art-elicited chills indicate states of being moved. Psychology of Aesthetics Creativity and the Arts 9(4):405–16. Available at:

Negative emotions in art reception: Refining theoretical assumptions and adding variables to the Distancing-Embracing model

  • Winfried Menninghaus (a1), Valentin Wagner (a1), Julian Hanich (a2), Eugen Wassiliwizky (a1), Thomas Jacobsen (a3) and Stefan Koelsch (a4)...


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed