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Talk Aviezer (Lecture Serie)

Millionaires in agony: Affective vocalization to winning the lottery


Dr. Hillel Aviezer

Hebrew University of Jerusalem 


The basic distinction between expressions of positive and negative emotion is fundamental in emotion models. Despite these assumed distinctions, we recently found that real-life intense facial reactions to highly positive (e.g., sports victory, orgasm etc) or negative (sports defeat, nipple piercing) situations could not be discriminated by perceivers. In the current study, we turn to vocal emotions and examine the intonation in the initial voice reactions of lottery winners while being informed by phone of their prize. These unique recordings are optimal for testing vocal responses to intense situations because the valence of the event is a parameter with increasing degrees of positivity (ranging from 50K NIS to 1500K NIS). The results confirm that the affect of vocal reactions shifts from positive to negative as the prize becomes higher. These findings are in good accordance with our data on intense faces and together they challenge standard models of emotion expression.