Quantitative Assessment of Sad Emotion
Psychology and Behavioral Sciences
Based on the disparity theory of emotion, the role of sad emotion is an internal assessment of the error-correction process to reduce the disparity between the expected and actual outcomes (loss reduction) in the reality check process. This computational theory of emotion is consistent with the psychological characteristics that sadness is an emotional response to the sense of loss (such as loss of loved ones, valuables, possessions, or achieved goals). This emotional theory of sadness also
... of sadness also includes the emotional resolution process by accepting that nothing can be done to change the actual outcomes, and resolving the emotion by reducing the perceived loss. This self-corrective mechanism is used as an internal feedback to assess the incongruence between the expectation and the actuality, such that the perceived loss can be reduced, resolving the sad emotion in the process. Thus, sadness can serve as a motivating feedback to an individual to make a decision to reduce the loss in the emotional resolution process. The classical ultimatum game (UG) paradigm is used to elicit self-generated emotion in human subjects experimentally in response to the disparity between the proportions of money being offered to share with. Results showed that the sadness level is quantified by the sadness stimulus-response function. The level of sadness intensity is proportional to perceived loss (or inversely proportional to the perceived gain). The results also showed that there was a shifting of the baseline sadness level from a less sad level for the acceptance decision to a more sad level for the rejection decision. This shows that the sad emotion can be resolved by accepting the monetary offer in the UG paradigm, which reduces the loss compared to the decision to reject the money. These results confirmed the emotional disparity hypothesis that the level of sadness is proportional to the perceived loss, and sadness can be resolved by reducing the loss in the self-regulated internal processing of emotion. Implications on emotional intelligence are also addressed so that one of the effective skills to resolve sadness is the reduction of the perceived losses.