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10 - Expectancies and Disengagement

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2012

Charles S. Carver
Affiliation:
University of Miami
Michael F. Scheier
Affiliation:
Carnegie Mellon University, Pennsylvania
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Summary

But they did find their mountain. And they did climb it And for a while they thought they would get up to the top. And while they thought they could, they were happy.

(Virginia Axline, Dibs: In Search of Self)

Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right.

(Henry Ford)

People sometimes talk as though feelings and thoughts were totally distinct, but that's not true. Sometimes feelings are directly linked to thoughts. Sadness connects to doubt, and happiness to confidence, hopefulness, and optimism. In Chapter 8, we suggested that a single mechanism yields two subjective readouts. The first – affect – was the subject of the rest of Chapter 8. The second, we said, is a hazy sense of confidence versus doubt. We turn now to that experience, confidence versus doubt – expectancies about what will happen in the immediate future.

We start with evidence of a link between affect and expectancy, then consider the fact that repeated experience can cause expectancies to become more solidified in memory. In judging what will happen next, people sometimes rely on those memories as much as (or more than) their current experience. Later we consider the idea that expectancies (or the experiences that give rise to them) create a divergence between two classes of behavior, a divergence with a great many implications.

AFFECT IS LINKED TO EXPECTANCY

A basic premise is that the mechanism underlying positive versus negative affect also gives rise to a sense of confidence versus doubt.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 1998

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