Pleasure, Arousal, Dominance: Mehrabian and Russell revisited

Iris Bakker, Theo van der Voordt, Peter Vink, Jan de Boon
  • Current Psychology, June 2014, Springer Science + Business Media
  • DOI: 10.1007/s12144-014-9219-4

Pleasure, Arousal, Dominance: Mehrabian and Russell revisited

What is it about?

This paper presents a discursive review of the dimensions pleasure, arousal and dominance that Mehrabian and Russell developed in 1974 to assess environmental perception, experience, and psychological responses. Since then numerous researchers applied these dimensions to assess the experience of the physical environment and its perceived qualities. Although the dimensions appeared to be useful, there is a longlasting debate going on among environmental psychologists about the interpretation of pleasure, arousal and dominance and its underlying mechanisms. Due to the lack of clarity researchers use different adjectives to describe environmental experiences, which makes any comparison between research findings difficult. The paper shows that the three dimensions can be linked to the current ABC Model of Attitudes: pleasure, arousal and dominance can be respectively related to affective, cognitive and conative responses, i.e. Affect, Cognition and Behaviour (ABC). In addition, connecting the three dimensions to the triad feeling, thinking and acting, can also help to improve our understanding, interpretation and measurement of pleasure, arousal and dominance. Based on this review, it is proposed to re-introduce the three dimensions and to replace the nowadays often used two dimensional model with pleasure and arousal by a three dimensional model, including dominance as a third dimension, to represent the complete range of human responses.

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The following have contributed to this page: Dr. Theo van der Voordt