Wp1: Ancient theories, modern problems

Exploring the potential of ancient discussions of mixed affect and theories of pleasure and affective valence to contribute to contemporary philosophical and neuroscientific views on emotional (dis)pleasure. 

Wp2: Contemporary theories

Assessing current models of affective (ambi)valence as they are employed in both folk and scientific psychology, shedding light on their (sometimes implicit) assumptions and revealing their blind spots.

Wp3: Folk psychology of mixed affect

Italian native speakers will provide spoken descriptions of bittersweet feelings (e.g., being touched, nostalgia), as well as positively- and negatively-valenced terms. Descriptions will be analyzed through natural language processing techniques to reveal the semantic structure of mixed emotions.  

Wp4: Neuroscientific appraisal of mixed affect

Moment-by-moment reports of the affective experience elicited by movie watching will be collected outside the scanner. Movie excerpts triggering ambivalent feelings will be selected and displayed in the fMRI setting to independent individuals. Brain regions involved in the representation of mixed feelings will be revealed by measuring the association between fMRI activity and time series of emotional ambivalence.

Wp5: Clinical implications

Analyzing the clinical implications of mixed affective states for existing theories of affect and assessing our novel proposal by applying it to some clinically relevant case studies. The case studies that will be analyzed and discussed include neurotic ambivalence, alexithymia, mixed episodes of depression, and the co-occurrence of depression and anxiety.