Surprised – Curious – Confused: Epistemic Emotions and Knowledge Exploration
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Description: Some epistemic emotions, such as surprise and curiosity, have attracted increasing scientific attention, whereas others, such as confusion, have yet to receive the attention they deserve. In addition, little is known about the interrelations of these emotions, their joint antecedents and outcomes, and how they differ from other emotions prompted during learning and knowledge generation (e.g., achievement emotions). In three studies (Ns = 102, 373, 125) using a trivia task with immediate feedback, we examined within-person interrelations, antecedents, and effects of three epistemic emotions (surprise, curiosity, and confusion). Studies 2 and 3 additionally included two achievement emotions (pride and shame). Using multilevel modeling to disentangle within- and between-person variance, we found that achievement emotions were associated with accuracy (i.e., correctness of the answer), whereas epistemic emotions were related to high-confidence errors (i.e., incorrect answers a person was confident in) generating cognitive incongruity. Furthermore, as compared with achievement emotions, epistemic emotions were more strongly and positively related to subsequent knowledge exploration. Specifically, surprise and curiosity were positive predictors of exploration. Confusion had positive predictive effects on exploration which were significant in Studies 1 and 3 but not Study 2, suggesting that the effects of confusion are less stable and need to be investigated further. Apart from the findings for confusion, the results were fully robust across all three studies. They shed light on the distinct origins and outcomes of epistemic emotions. Directions for future research and practical implications are discussed.