Three experiments were conducted to examine the theoretical prediction that the intensity of sadness is determined not only by the instigating event but also by factors that impede or deter the function or purpose of sadness. In the first two experiments, participants were asked to read a story designed to induce sadness, and were then given a $1, $2, or $3 gift. In both, reported sadness was higher for persons receiving a $2 gift than for those receiving either a $1 or $3 gift. However, the increase in sadness from the $1 to $2 group failed to reach an acceptable level of significance. In the second experiment, as expected, a $1 gift produced less sadness than did the story by itself, and as in the first experiment, a $2 gift resulted in more sadness than either a $1 or $3 gift. The third experiment replicated the $1 and $2 conditions and obtained a highly reliable effect; sadness was greater among those who received the $2 gift. Measures of positive affect suggested that participants experienced either sadness or positive feelings, not both.
Brehm, JW; Brummett, BH; Harvey, L
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