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performance evaluations

If pleasure and arousal are pervasive organizers of human judgments, as these and other data indicate, almost parallel dimensions of direction – towards or away from – and vigor (intensity) were earlier advocated as fundamental in organizing behavior as well (Hebb, 1949). To the extent that language has developed to describe important parameters of behavior, it is reasonable that its primary dimensions are related to those that control action. Ratings of pleasure reflect one’s tendency to approach a stimulus, whereas displeasure reflects a tendency to withdraw, escape, or otherwise terminate the encounter. Similarly, judgments of arousal index the amount of vigor associated with a given behavioral choice, and increase with stimulus intensity. This analysis suggests that affective reports of differences along the SAM dimensions of pleasure and arousal might covary consistently with other measures of reactivity in physiological or behavioral systems. Lang and his colleagues (Greenwald, Cook, & Lang, 1988; Lang et al., 1993) have recently generated a large database indicating that cardiac and electrodermal responses, as well as facial displays of emotion, systematically vary with differences in affect as indexed by the SAM dimensions of pleasure and arousal.