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Surprise, Curiosity, and Confusion Promote Knowledge Exploration: Evidence for Robust Effects of Epistemic Emotions.

  • Vogl, Elisabeth1
  • Pekrun, Reinhard1, 2
  • Murayama, Kou3, 4
  • Loderer, Kristina1, 5
  • Schubert, Sandra1
  • 1 Department of Psychology, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Munich, Germany. , (Germany)
  • 2 Institute for Positive Psychology and Education, Australian Catholic University, Sydney, NSW, Australia. , (Australia)
  • 3 School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading, Reading, United Kingdom. , (United Kingdom)
  • 4 Research Institute, Kōchi University of Technology, Kōchi, Japan. , (Japan)
  • 5 Department of Psychology, University of Augsburg, Augsburg, Germany. , (Germany)
Published Article
Frontiers in Psychology
Frontiers Media SA
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2019
DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02474
PMID: 31780990


Research has started to acknowledge the importance of emotions for complex learning and cognitive performance. However, research on epistemic emotions has only recently become more prominent. Research in educational psychology in particular has mostly focused on examining achievement emotions instead of epistemic emotions. Furthermore, only few studies have addressed functional mechanisms underlying multiple different epistemic emotions simultaneously, and only one study has systematically compared the origins and effects of epistemic emotions with other emotions relevant to knowledge generation (i.e., achievement emotions; Vogl et al., 2019). The present article aimed to replicate the findings from Vogl et al. (2019) exploring within-person interrelations, origins, and outcomes of the epistemic emotions surprise, curiosity, and confusion, and the achievement emotions pride and shame, as well as to analyze their robustness and generalizability across two different study settings (online; Study 1, n = 169 vs. lab; Study 2, n = 79). In addition, the previous findings by Vogl et al. (2019, Study 3) and the present two new studies were meta-analytically integrated to consolidate evidence on origins and outcomes of epistemic emotions. The results of the two new studies largely replicated the findings by Vogl et al. (2019). Combined with the meta-analytic results, the findings confirm distinct patterns of antecedents for epistemic vs. achievement emotions: Pride and shame were more strongly associated with the correctness of a person's answer (i.e., accuracy), whereas surprise, curiosity, and confusion were more strongly related to incorrect responses a person was confident in (i.e., high-confidence errors) producing cognitive incongruity. Furthermore, in contrast to achievement emotions, epistemic emotions had positive effects on the exploration of knowledge. Implications for research and practice are discussed. Copyright © 2019 Vogl, Pekrun, Murayama, Loderer and Schubert.

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