ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2015, Vol. 23 ›› Issue (10): 1701-1710.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2015.01701

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The New Approach to Study Unconscious Emotion

CHEN Li1,2; CHEN Xia3; TU Shen4; ZHANG Yaru5; ZHANG Qinglin1   

  1. (1 Key Laboratory of Cognition and Personality (SWU), Ministry of Education, Faculty of Psychology,
    Southwest University, Chongqing 400715, China)
    (2 Institute of Teachers’ Education, The Second Teachers’ College of Chongqing, Chongqing400065, China)
     (3 The College of Literature and Journalism, Sichuan University, Chengdu 610064, China)
    (4 Institute of Education, China West Normal University, Nanchong 637009, China)
    (5 The Ninth People’s Hospital of Chongqing, Chongqing 400700, China)
  • Received:2014-03-11 Online:2015-10-15 Published:2015-10-15
  • Contact: ZHANG Qinglin, E-mail:


The concept of unconscious emotion has developed from addressing subliminal emotional stimulus to emphasizing unawareness of emotional experience. To integrate the two different paths to explore unconscious emotion, Wiens model, an information-processing model of emotion was introduced. According to Wiens model, there exist two parallel approaches to understand unconscious emotion, which are “stimulus-focused approach” and “experience -focused approach“. The core ideas, empirical studies, theoretical debates, methodological challenges and the essences of unconscious emotion along the two separate ways were then reviewed. It is implied that by nature consciousness and unconsciousness of emotion might be complementary rather than contradictory to each other based on Wiens model. And the new approach to study unconscious emotion might be the “experience-focused approach“.The application and future direction of research on unconscious emotion were also discussed.

Key words: unconscious emotion, backward masking, subliminal emotion priming, stimulus-focused approach, experience-focused approach