Dynamics of ideal affect jeanne L. tsai
Whether you are an eminent spiritual leader, outspoken Supreme Court justice, influential philosopher, or typical college student, chances are you have some notion about which feelings you would like to feel. As illustrated by the above quotes, however, people vary in the specific feelings that they believe are good, moral, and virtuous. Whereas Billy Graham states that excitement “should last a lifetime,” Joseph Campbell believes that genuine bliss is more than “quick little excitement.” What explains these differences in how people ideally want to feel? Affect Valuation Theory (AVT) posits that much of what we learn about our feelings comes from our cultures-those historically derived and socially transmitted ideas that are instantiated in artifacts, practices, and institutions (Kroeber and Kluckhohn, 1952). And whether we realize it or not, these cultural prescriptions influence how we act in the world: how we represent ourselves,
how we perceive others, what choices and decisions we make, and what we think comprises success, health, and happiness. But are these affective ideals dynamic, and if so, what are the conditions under which they change versus remain the same? Prior to answering these questions, we briefly review AVT and the empirical work testing its predictions. We then discuss four sources of change in ideal affect (daily, acculturative, cultural, and emotional). We conclude with directions for future research.