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Brain Sci. 2012, 2(4), 504-522; doi:10.3390/brainsci2040504
Article

Subliminal Affect Valence Words Change Conscious Mood Potency but Not Valence: Is This Evidence for Unconscious Valence Affect?

1,* , 2
,
1
 and
1
1 Department of Psychiatry, University of Michigan Medical Center, 4250 Plymouth Rd., Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA 2 Department of Veterinary and Comparative Anatomy, Pharmacology, and Physiology, Washington State University, PO Box 646520, Pullman, WA 99164, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 27 August 2012 / Revised: 27 September 2012 / Accepted: 6 October 2012 / Published: 17 October 2012
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Abstract

Whether or not affect can be unconscious remains controversial. Research claiming to demonstrate unconscious affect fails to establish clearly unconscious stimulus conditions. The few investigations that have established unconscious conditions fail to rule out conscious affect changes. We report two studies in which unconscious stimulus conditions were met and conscious mood changes measured. The subliminal stimuli were positive and negative affect words presented at the objective detection threshold; conscious mood changes were measured with standard manikin valence, potency, and arousal scales. We found and replicated that unconscious emotional stimuli produced conscious mood changes on the potency scale but not on the valence scale. Were positive and negative affects aroused unconsciously, but reflected consciously in potency changes? Or were the valence words unconscious cognitive causes of conscious mood changes being activated without unconscious affect? A thought experiment is offered as a way to resolve this dilemma.
Keywords: affect; emotion; conscious; unconscious; subliminal; objective threshold; subjective threshold affect; emotion; conscious; unconscious; subliminal; objective threshold; subjective threshold
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Shevrin, H.; Panksepp, J.; Brakel, L.A.W.; Snodgrass, M. Subliminal Affect Valence Words Change Conscious Mood Potency but Not Valence: Is This Evidence for Unconscious Valence Affect? Brain Sci. 2012, 2, 504-522.

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