University of Exeter. At the time of publication, the author was at the University of Trento
Journal of Consciousness Studies
‘Valence’ is used in many different ways in emotion theory. It generally refers to the ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ character of an emotion, as well as to the ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ character of some aspect of emotion. After reviewing these different uses, I point to the conceptual problems that come with them. In particular, I distinguish: problems that arise from conflating the valence of an emotion with the valence of its aspects, and problems that arise from the very idea that an emotion (and/or its aspects) can be divided into mutually exclusive opposites. The first group of problems does not question the classic dichotomous notion of valence, but the second does. In order to do justice to the richness of daily emotions, emotion science needs more complex conceptual tools.