Abstract
Why are negative emotions so central in art reception far beyond tragedy? Revisiting classical aesthetics in the light of recent psychological research, we present a novel model to explain this much discussed paradox. We argue that negative emotions are an important resource for the arts in general, rather than a special license for exceptional art forms only. The underlying rationale is that negative emotions have been shown to be particularly powerful in securing attention, intense emotional involvement, and high memorability, and hence is precisely what artworks strive for. Two groups of processing mechanisms are identified that conjointly adopt the particular powers of negative emotions for art's purposes. The first group consists of psychological distancing mechanisms that are activated along with the cognitive schemata of art, representation, and fiction. These schemata imply personal safety and control over continuing or discontinuing exposure to artworks, thereby preventing negative emotions from becoming outright incompatible with expectations of enjoyment. This distancing sets the stage for a second group of processing components that allow art recipients to positively embrace the experiencing of negative emotions, thereby rendering art reception more intense, more interesting, more emotionally moving, more profound, and occasionally even more beautiful. These components include compositional interplays of positiveandnegative emotions, the effects of aesthetic virtues of using the media of presentation on emotion perception, and meaning-making efforts. Moreover, our Distancing-Embracing model proposes that concomitant mixed emotions often help integrate negative emotions into altogether pleasurable trajectories.
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DOI 10.1017/s0140525x17000309
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References found in this work BETA

Categories of Art.Kendall L. Walton - 1970 - Philosophical Review 79 (3):334-367.
The Cognitive Control of Emotion.K. N. Ochsner & J. J. Gross - 2005 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 9 (5):242-249.
The Empathic Brain: How, When and Why?Frederique de Vignemont & Tania Singer - 2006 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 10 (10):435-441.
What Are Emotions? And How Can They Be Measured?Klaus R. Scherer - 2005 - Social Science Information 44 (4):695-729.

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Citations of this work BETA

Art and Painful Emotion.Matthew Strohl - 2019 - Philosophy Compass 14 (1):e12558.
What Evokes Being Moved?Eric Cullhed - 2019 - Emotion Review 12 (2):111-117.

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