Psychological Science 2017, 40(6) 1435-1441 DOI:     ISSN: 0412-1961 CN: 21-1139/TG

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expectation strength
expectation confidence
sensory channel
sensory experience
TANG Wen-Jie
HOU Yu-Bei
Article by Tang,W.J
Article by Hou,Y.B

The Impact of the Expectation Strength and the Expectation Confidence on the Unpleasant Perceptual Experience


Expectation is an individual’s belief of future outcomes of forthcoming events. The intensity of the belief is called expectation strength while to what extent one believes these outcomes will come true is called expectation confidence. Previous researches mainly focused on how expectation strength affects people’s sensation and perception. Nevertheless, previous researchers obtained different results in different fields. Our target is to explore the impact of expectation strength and confidence on immediate experience based upon sensory channels, thereby to answer the reason why expectation strength had different effects on outcomes in past researches. Ultimately, we give some useful advices about expectation to optimize their actual experiences when encountering some negative events. For this purpose, we conduct two experiments which start respectively from sense of touch and taste to find out whether the expectation strength and expectation confidence have influence on actual pain and subjective feeling when faced with unpleasant events in daily life. In Experiment 1, we conduct a new situation in which participants are asked to experience a hot product-shiatsu sheet which can generate pain feeling. We manipulate expectation strength with different text description about shiatsu sheet and activate expectation confidence through asking participants to illustrate three reasons about their expectations or describe 3 things they have done today. For the dependent variable, we measure participants’ pain perception and subjective feeling through self-evaluation scale under controlling self-confidence, emotion state and personality trait. The main results show that expectation strength and expectation confidence have interaction effect on practical experience, F(2,110)=10.06,p<0.001,η2=0.16. Participant with positive expectation have better feeling while they have strong expectation confidence, F(2,110)=16.78,p<0.001,η2=0.23. Meanwhile, expectation will not influence actual experience when participants do not have confidence, F(2,110)=0.15,p=0.858,η2=0.003. Interestingly, for the pain perception, expectation strength and expectation confidence have the same effect on actual experience, F(1,111)=13.53,p<0.001,η2=0.11, but for the subjective feelings, the two independent variables do not have significant influence, F(1,111)=1.83,p=0.179. In Experiment 2, we ask participants to taste some home-made drink and make evaluation. Participants experience their feelings more immediately since they are more familiar with this scene, so they can easily compare actual experience with expectation. The method of manipulating independent variables is the same with Experiment 1. For the dependent variables, we measure participant’s taste perception, subjective feeling and aversion under controlling emotion. The results of Experiment 2 are consistent with experimental hypothesis that expectation strength and expectation confidence have interaction effect on practical experience, F(3,94)=4.62,p=0.005,η2=0.13. Participant with positive expectation have better feeling when they have strong expectation confidence, F(3,94)=3.83,p=0.012,η2=0.11. In the contrary, participant with negative expectation have better feeling when they have weaker expectation confidence, F(3,94)=2.87,p=0.069,η2=0.08. For the dependent variables, the findings are the same with experimental 1, expectation strength and expectation confidence only influence taste perception without any effect on subjective feelings. In conclusion, results suggest the expectation strength can impact individuals’ immediate experience in which expectation confidence plays a moderating role. When people have strong expectation confidence, their actual experience is consistent with outcomes of expectation, that is, people with positive expectations can experience better and vice versa; On the contrary, when expectation confidence is lacked, individuals’ actual experience is different from the expectation, in other words, those who have negative expectation can experience better instead. These findings depict how expectation influences perception and sensory. In terms of theoretical significance, the research not only reveals the mechanism that expectation strength and confidence influence individuals’ immediate experience, but also provides theoretical and practical implications for understanding the nature of body-mind relationship. expectation strength, expectation confidence, sensory channel, sensory experience;

Keywords expectation strength   expectation confidence   sensory channel   sensory experience  
Received 2017-05-02 Revised 2017-12-21 Online: 2017-11-20 
Corresponding Authors: Yu-Bo Hou
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