This is an ongoing project, which also constitutes of my doctoral thesis.

  • Individuals commonly employ the term "RELIEF" (欣慰) to describe a state of inner satisfaction and solace in daily life:
    • Following successful examination outcomes, one feels RELIEF that their efforts were not in vain.
    • Witnessing a child's growth and understanding towards their parents brings a sense of RELIEF, signifying the success of educational endeavors.
    • Experiencing RELIEF from aiding others and receiving gratitude underscores the fulfillment derived from not merely standing by but actively contributing.
  • In the preceding descriptions, "RELIEF" indicated an evaluative and reflective process during the experience of the emotion, akin to what is termed "counterfactual thinking" in psychological research.
    • Researchers posit that the emotion of relief arises from this counterfactual thinking process. If the actual outcome of an action is positive or neutral, or if an alternative decision could have resulted in a less favorable outcome, it leads to a more negative result.
    • When contemplating scenarios in this manner, relief, as a counterfactual emotion, emerges. This emotion is rooted in downward comparisons between the actual outcome and the potential alternative outcomes (Guttentag & Ferrell, 2004).
      • For instance, a person might experience relief after catching a train, as failing to do so would have incurred expensive taxi fees.

Why do these events evoke a feeling of relief, and are the relief emotions triggered by these events identical?

  • However, the conceptual structure of "RELIEF" may not be as straightforward. There are numerous emotional events that can trigger a sense of relief. This question corresponds to the classic issue in the field of emotions: "How are emotions generated" (Levenson, 2011).
  • From Darwin's initial explanations of emotions to the James-Lange theory and Cannon-Bard's thalamic theory, early theories posited that physiological responses to emotional stimuli and emotional experiences occur simultaneously and independently, without considering an individual's processing of emotional events. As research on emotions has progressed, the "cognitive-appraisal" theory emphasizes the significant role of cognitive processes in the emotion generation process. This theory asserts that individuals' emotional responses to the same situation depend on their interpretation or appraisal of the situation.
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  • This theory provides a framework for addressing the question of how RELIEF is generated. The emotional response elicited by an event is determined by how the event is interpreted across multiple appraisal dimensions. These dimensions include the novelty of the event, the valence of the outcome, the relevance to goals, the perceived level of control, and the likelihood of fairness (Scherer & Moors, 2019).
  • By integrating this theory, researchers can employ quantitative methods to analyze the structure of relief in studies and investigate the role of different components in the process of relief generation.


  • In the earlier discussion, it was mentioned that RELIEF, arises from the process of counterfactual thinking, involving a "if...then..." process, which inherently includes a decision-making component.
  • When experiencing RELIEF after catching a train, for example, it may stem from downward counterfactual thinking such as "If I hadn't left early, then I wouldn't have caught this train." The decision-making process is evident in the choices made, like deciding to leave early or wait a bit longer.

So, does this kind of relief emotion influence subsequent decision-making?

  • Does the sense of RELIEF influence the decision to leave early for the next train? This is where RELIEF’s impact on decision-making comes into play. Risk decision-making involves decisions in the face of known probabilities (Kahneman, 1991). In risk decision-making, individuals need to integrate various pieces of information to make optimal choices. Given the ubiquity and complexity of risk decision-making, it has been a focal point of interdisciplinary research. Therefore, building on the discussion of relief structure, this study also attempts to analyze the influence of emotions on behavior.
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  • The process of risk decision-making essentially involves evaluating between "if" and "then," weighing losses and gains. Therefore, this evaluative process can correspond to the structure of relief emotions. In summary, this study aims to integrate the componential theory of emotions, establish the conceptual structure of relief in the Chinese cultural context, and analyze its impact on risk decision-making.
Guttentag, R., & Ferrell, J. (2004). Reality compared with its alternatives: age differences in judgments of regret and relief. Developmental psychology40(5), pp764.
Levenson, R. W. (2011). Basic emotion questions. Emotion review3(4), 379-386.
Marsella, S. C., & Gratch, J. (2009). EMA: A process model of appraisal dynamics. Cognitive Systems Research10(1), 70-90.
Scherer, K. R., & Moors, A. (2019). The emotion process: Event appraisal and component differentiation. Annual review of psychology70, 719-745.
Kahneman, D. (1991). Article commentary: Judgment and decision making: A personal view. Psychological science2(3), 142-145.
  • 日常生活中,人们常用“欣慰”来形容内心满足并感到宽慰的状态:
    • 在考试成功通过后,欣慰自己的努力没有白费。
    • 在孩子长大能够体谅父母时,欣慰教育的成功。
    • 在帮助他人并获得感谢时,欣慰没有袖手旁观
  • 在以上的描述中,都将“欣慰”放在了动词的位置,显然在感受到“欣慰”情绪的过程中存在评价和思索的过程,在心理学研究中,将这一过程称为“反事实思维”。
    • 研究者认为欣慰正是基于这样的反事实思维而产生的情绪,如果一个行动过程的实际结果是积极或中性的或者一个可能的替代决定,那么会导致更消极的结果。
    • 当以这种方式构思时,我们会产生欣慰(relief)这种反事实情绪,即一种基于实际结果和事情可能会有所不同的向下比较的情绪(Guttentag & Ferrell, 2004)
      • e.g. 一个人可能会在赶上火车之后感到欣慰,否则自己就要承担昂贵的打车费。


  • 这一问题正对应了情绪领域的经典问题“情绪是如何产生的”(Levenson, 2011)。
  • 从最初的达尔文对于情绪的解释到“詹姆士-兰格”理论、坎农-巴德的“丘脑理论”都认为对情绪刺激的生理反应和情绪体验是同时发生、彼此独立的,而没有考虑个体对情绪事件的加工。随着对情绪研究的深入,“认知-评价”理论强调思维过程在情绪产生过程中的重要作用,该理论认为人们对同一情境的情绪反应取决于他们对情境的解释或评价。
  • 这一理论就能够帮我们对欣慰情绪如何产生的问题进行回答,事件引发的情绪是由如何从多个评价维度解释该事件决定的,这些维度包括事件的新颖性、结果效价、目标相关性、控制感和公平性的可能程度(MScherer & Moors, 2019),结合这一理论,就可以在研究中采用量化的方法分析欣慰的结构,并分析不同成分在欣慰产生过程中作用。


  • 在赶上火车后产生欣慰可能来源于“如果我没有早点出门,那么就赶不上这趟火车了”的向下反事实思维,那么“早点出门”和“再多等一会”之间就是决策的过程。


  • 是否在这种欣慰情绪的加持下,会在下次赶火车的时候也早点出门呢?
  • 这就是欣慰对决策的影响。风险决策是概率已知的不确定性决策(Kahneman, 1991)。在风险决策中,个体需要综合各方面的信息以作出最优选择,鉴于风险决策的普遍性和复杂性,它也一直是众多学科研究的热点,因此本研究在欣慰结构讨论的基础上也也试图分析情绪对行为的影响。
  • 而风险决策的过程本质上就是在“如果”和“那么”,损失与收益之间的衡量,因此这一评估的过程也能够对应在欣慰情绪的结构中。综上所述,本研究将结合情绪成分理论,在中国文化环境中建立欣慰概念的结构并分析其对风险决策的影响。
The word-type effect of morpheme position information processing and the regulation of word frequencyEmotional Contagion