The role of emotional awareness in evaluative judgment: evidence from alexithymia

Scientific Reports 13 (5183) (2023)
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Evaluative judgments imply positive or negative regard. But there are different ways in which something can be positive or negative. How do we tell them apart? According to Evaluative Sentimentalism, different evaluations (e.g., dangerousness vs. offensiveness) are grounded on different emotions (e.g., fear vs. anger). If this is the case, evaluation differentiation requires emotional awareness. Here, we test this hypothesis by looking at alexithymia, a deficit in emotional awareness consisting of problems identifying, describing, and thinking about emotions. The results of Study 1 suggest that high alexithymia is not only related to problems distinguishing emotions, but also to problems distinguishing evaluations. Study 2 replicated this latter effect after controlling for individual differences in attentional impulsiveness and reflective reasoning, and found that reasoning makes an independent contribution to evaluation differentiation. These results suggest that emotional sensibilities play an irreducible role in evaluative judgment while affording a role for reasoning.

Author Profiles

Jesse J. Prinz
CUNY Graduate Center
Rodrigo Díaz
Université de Montréal


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