I have finally completed my doctorate entitled, “Learning from others: Emotion appreciation and the informative case of interest”, under the supervision of Professor Fabrice Clement at the Cognitive Science Centre at the University of Neuchâtel in Switzerland. Professors Joseph Campos (UC Berkeley), Antony Manstead (Cardiff) and David Sander (Geneva) were the external examiners of my thesis committee.
My research is primarily concerned with affective science. More specifically, I have been working on how recognising the affective relationship that a third party has with a particular object can be used by infants and adults alike to infer how that person values that object (e.g. a physical object, an idea, an action etc.). We argue that being able to infer such information may lead to a change in the observer’s values and subsequent actions concerning the object. We have dubbed this process ‘affective social learning’ and include phenomena such as emotional contagion, social referencing, social appraisal and natural pedagogy as its major components. Another important part of my research aims at highlighting how understanding the relations that people have with the objects in their environment is more involved than simply recognising facial expressions.
Some of my research has particularly focused on ‘interest’. For example, I have been working on how best to define interest by asking the deceptively simple question of whether or not interest qualifies as an emotion, and testing the appraisal structure of interest through questionnaires.