Pub. date: 2007 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952606 | Print ISBN: 9781412905305 | Online ISBN: 9781412952606| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
The theory of excitation transfer addresses sequential dependencies in emotional reactivity. Specifically, the theory posits a facilitation of affective and emotional reactions as a function of residual sympathetic excitation from preceding moods and emotions. In practical terms, the theory deals with two or more aroused emotional reactions that closely follow one another, and regardless of the kinds of aroused emotions involved, it predicts that the later reactions are intensified by lingering arousal from earlier reactions. The theory is thus capable of explaining, for example, why a chain of moderately distressing challenges can escalate frustration, fear, or anger to extreme levels; why people laugh especially heartily after having been frightened; why young men behave more aggressively after having been sexually aroused; why adolescents get more romantic after seeing a horror film; why children are similarly inclined to snuggle up on Mom after her reading of a scary fairytale; or, for that ...