ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2021, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (6): 959-966.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2021.00959

• Conceptual Framework • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The hypothesis of anticipatory emotions as information for social risks: Examining emotional and cultural mechanisms of risky decisions in public

WANG X.T. (XiaoTian)1(), WANG Na2, HE Jinbo1   

  1. 1School of Humanities and Social Science, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen 518172, China
    2School of Educational Sciences, Hanshan Normal University, Chaozhou 521041, China
  • Received:2020-12-21 Online:2021-06-15 Published:2021-04-25
  • Contact: WANG X.T. (XiaoTian)


This research project explores the emotional mechanisms underlying prosocial and antisocial behaviors in public arenas. By synthesizing several influential theories concerning the roles of emotions in decision-making, we developed a hypothesis of anticipatory emotions as an information source for social risks. We define anticipatory emotions as any discrete emotions that are induced from anticipating expected choice outcomes and felt at the time of decision-making, and in turn, regulate the decision behavior. Risky events in social and public contexts are characterized by their destructive, emergent, transient, and unpredictable nature. Thus, the reactions to these risky events need to be quick and unambiguous. However, the probabilities of possible consequences associated with these reactions are usually hard to reckon with. Under such conditions, anticipatory emotions provide a prompt and overall risk assessment as a substitute for expected utility, reflecting both the likelihood and severity of expected choice outcomes. We view anticipatory emotions as mental representations of social risks. We predict that different profiles of anticipatory emotions collectively distinguish different types of social risks. Moreover, the combinations of anticipatory emotions are culturally specific. The more recent categorization of the face, dignity, and honor cultures allows us to make predictions about the emotional characteristics of each culture. Overall, the proposed four studies with multiple experiments will examine how anticipatory emotions influence reactions to public risks. We explore how dispositional, social, and cultural factors regulate prosocial and antisocial behaviors. The results of these studies will benefit the research in risk management, public policymaking, and provide scientific support to public education, counseling, and civil service training.

Key words: anticipatory emotions, risky decision, risk management, public events, social norms, cultural differences

CLC Number: