Nico Frijda writes that emotions are governed by a psychological principle called the “law of apparent reality”: emotions are elicited only by events appraised as real, and the intensity of these emotions corresponds to the degree to which these events are appraised as real. This observation seems psychologically plausible, but emotional responses elicited by works of art raise counterexamples.
Frijda’s law accounts for my panic if I am afraid of snakes and see an object I correctly appraise as a rattlesnake, and also for my identical response if I see a coiled garden hose I mistakenly perceive to be a snake. However, suppose I am watching a movie and see a snake gliding toward its victim. Surely I might experience the same emotions of panic and distress, though I know the snake is not real. These responses extend even to phenomena not conventionally accepted as real. A movie about ghosts, for example, may be terrifying to all viewers, even those who firmly reject the possibility of ghosts, but this is not because viewers are confusing cinematic depiction with reality. Moreover, I can feel strong emotions in response to objects of art that are interpretations, rather than representations, of reality: I am moved by Mozart’s Requiem, but I know that I am not at a real funeral. However, if Frijda’s law is to explain all emotional reactions, there should be no emotional response at all to aesthetic objects or events, because we know they are not real in the way a living rattlesnake is real.
Most psychologists, perplexed by the feelings they acknowledge are aroused by aesthetic experience, have claimed that these emotions are genuine, but different in kind from nonaesthetic emotions. This, however, is a descriptive distinction rather than an empirical observation and consequently lacks explanatory value. On the other hand, Gombrich argues that emotional responses to art are ersatz; art triggers remembrances of previously experienced emotions. These debates have prompted the psychologist Radford to argue that people do experience real melancholy or joy in responding to art, but that these are irrational responses precisely because people know they are reacting to illusory stimuli. Frijda’s law does not help us to untangle these positions, since it simply implies that events we recognize as being represented rather than real cannot elicit emotion in the first place
Frijda does suggest that a vivid imagination has “properties of reality”—implying, without explanation, that we make aesthetic objects or events “real” in the act of experiencing them. However, as Scruton argues, a necessary characteristic of the imaginative construction that can occur in an emotional response to art is that the person knows he or she is pretending. This is what distinguishes imagination from psychotic fantasy.
1. Which one of the following best states the central idea of the passage?
(A) The law of apparent reality fails to account satisfactorily for the emotional nature of belief.
(B) Theories of aesthetic response fail to account for how we distinguish unreasonable from reasonable responses to art.
(C) The law of apparent reality fails to account satisfactorily for emotional responses to art.
(D) Psychologists have been unable to determine what accounts for the changeable nature of emotional responses to art.
(E) Psychologists have been unable to determine what differentiates aesthetic from nonaesthetic emotional responses.
2. According to the passage, Frijda’s law asserts that emotional responses to events are
(A) unpredictable because emotional responses depend on how aware the person is of the reality of an event
(B) weaker if the person cannot distinguish illusion from reality
(C) more or less intense depending on the degree to which the person perceives the event to be real
(D) more intense if the person perceives an event to be frightening
(E) weaker if the person judges an event to be real but unthreatening
3. The author suggests that Frijda’s notion of the role of imagination in aesthetic response is problematic because it
(A) ignore the unselfconsciousness that is characteristic of emotional responses to art
(B) ignores the distinction between genuine emotion and ersatz emotion
(C) ignores the fact that a person who is imagining knows that he or she is imagining
(D) makes irrelevant distinctions between vivid and weak imaginative capacities
(E) suggests, in reference to the observation of art, that there is no distinction between real and illusory stimuli
4. The passage supports all of the following statements about the differences between Gombrich and Radford EXCEPT:
(A) Radfod’s argument relies on a notion of irrationality in a way that Gomgbrich’s argument does not.
(B) Gmbrich’s position is closer to the position of the majority of psychologists than is Radford’s.
(C) Gombrich, unlike Radford, argues that we do not have true emotions in response to art.
(D) Gombrich’s argument rests on a notion of memory in a way that Radford’s argument does not.
(E) Radford’s argument, unlike Gombrich’s, is not focused on the artificial quality of emotional responses to art.
5. Which one of the following best captures the progression of the author’s argument in lines 9-31?
(A) The emotional responses to events ranging from the real to the depicted illustrate the irrationality of emotional response.
(B) A series of events that range from the real to the depicted conveys the contrast between real events and cinematic depiction.
(C) An intensification in emotional response to a series of events that range from the real to the depicted illustrates Frijda’s law.
(D) A progression of events that range from the real to the depicted examines the precise nature of panic in relation to feared object.
(E) The consistency of emotional responses to events that range from the real to the depicted challenges Frijda’s law.
6. Author’s assertions concerning movies about ghosts imply that all of the following statements are false EXCEPT:
(A) Movies about ghosts are terrifying in proportion to viewers’ beliefs in the phenomenon of ghosts.
(B) Movies about imaginary phenomena like ghosts may be just as terrifying as movies about phenomena like snake.
(C) Movies about ghosts and snakes are not terrifying because people know that what they viewing is not real.
(D) Movies about ghosts are terrifying to viewers who previously rejected the possibility of ghosts because movies permanently alter the viewers sense of reality.
(E) Movies about ghosts elicit a very different emotional response from viewers who do not believe in ghosts than movies about snakes elicit from viewers who are frightened by snakes.
7. Which one of the following statements best exemplifies the position of Radford concerning the nature of emotional response to art?
(A) A person watching a movie about guerrilla warfare irrationally believes that he or she is present at the battle.
(B) A person watching a play about a kidnapping feels nothing because he or she rationally realizes it is not a real event.
(C) A person gets particular enjoyment out of writing fictional narratives in which he or she figures as a main character.
(D) A person irrationally bursts into tears while reading a novel about a destructive fire, even while realizing that he or she is reading about a fictional event.
(E) A person who is afraid of snakes trips over a branch and irrationally panics.
will post the OA after discussion
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