ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2018, Vol. 50 ›› Issue (9): 985-996.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2018.00985

• Reports of Empirical Studies • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The habituation of hedonic and eudaimonic affect

Yangmei LUO1,Fan MO1,2,Xuhai CHEN1,Hongda JIANG1,Xuqun YOU1()   

  1. 1 School of Psychology, Shaanxi Key Laboratory of Behavior and Cognitive Neuroscience, Shaanxi Normal University, Xi’an 710062, China;
    2 Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
  • Received:2017-08-28 Published:2018-09-15 Online:2018-07-27
  • Supported by:


Affect unfolds over time. Thus, it is crucial to understand the temporal dynamics of affect. Affective habituation, a form of affective temporal dynamic, refers to the psychological process by which the affective response becomes weak for repeated or continuous stimulation. Although substantial interest has been directed at delineating the affective habituation, it is still unclear that how hedonic affect (pleasure attainment and pain avoidance) and eudaimonic affect (meaning and self-realization) habituate across time. Additionally, it is unknown whether variety affects the habituation and how individual differences in the two types of affective habituation relate to people’s depression. The current study examines the process of the eudaimonic and hedonic habituation in a short time and its relation to depression.
Two experiments were designed in the current study. Experiment 1 was designed to investigate the habituation of positive and neutral affect. It was a 2 (stimulus variability: 1-stimulus vs. 4-simuli) × 2 (positive vs neutral) within-subject design. Thirty-eight participants completed the habituation paradigm, in which people assessed the affective reactions to the repeated positive and neutral pictures using a visual analog scale and their depressive states were measured. We used hierarchical linear models to model the affective habituation and its relation with depression. The results showed that positive affect is more likely to habituate than neutral affect is; variety counteracted habituation; and there is no relationship between affective habituation and depression.
From the hedonism and eudaimonism perspective, we divided positive affect into hedonic and eudaimonic affect. Experiment 2 was a 2 (variety: 1-stimulus vs. 4-simuli) × 3 (affective types: eudaimonic vs. hedonic vs. neutral) within-subject design. The procedure was almost identical to Experiment 1. Hedonic affect was defined as high pleasure but low meaning, such as the scenes depicting a person enjoying delicious food; eudaimonic affect was defined as high pleasure and high meaning, such as the scenes depicting a person helping others in need and spending time with family. The images were standardized with another sample. Seventy-one participants completed this habituation paradigm and their depressive states and neuroticism were measured after the experiment. The results showed that the hedonic affect is more likely to habituate than are eudaimonic affect and neutral affect. Variety counteracted hedonic and eudaimonic affect habituation. Their depressions were associated with rapid habituation of eudaimonic affect, but there was no such association for hedonic affect. Moreover, neuroticism moderated the relationship between the eudaimonic affect habituation and depression.
In general, evidences from the current study found that eudaimonic affect is difficult to habituate relative to hedonic affect in a short time. Variety counteracted both types of affect habituation. Furthermore, depression was associated with rapid habituation of eudaimonic affect and neuroticism could moderate this relationship. The findings may provide insight into temporal dynamics of eudaimonic affect and its implications in mental health of human beings.

Key words: hedonic affect, eudaimonic affect, habituation, depression, neuroticism

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