AAAI Publications, The Twenty-Sixth International FLAIRS Conference

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Emotions During Writing about Socially-Charged Issues: Effects of the (Mis)Alignment of Personal Positions with Instructed Positions
Caitlin Spencer Mills, Sidney Keith D'Mello

Last modified: 2013-05-19


Although considerable research has investigated the role of emotions in learning and problem solving, there is a paucity of research on the emotional and social aspects of academic writing. As an initial step in this direction, we conducted a study where 42 participants wrote two essays on two opposing stances about abortion (pro-choice and pro-life). Participants’ affective states (14 emotions plus neutral) were tracked at 15-second intervals via a retrospective affect judgment protocol. The results indicated that engagement, anxiety, confusion, frustration, and curiosity were the more frequent states, while the ‘basic’ emotions (e.g., sadness, disgust) were comparatively infrequent. Participants experienced more boredom when writing essays that did not align with their positions on abortion, but were more engaged when there was alignment. Participants also reported more curiosity while writing pro-choice essays. Importantly, boredom, engagement, and curiosity were the affective states that predicted essay quality. Lastly, self- reported interest before writing differed based on the alignment of positions and was related to affect in expected directions. We discuss the implications of our findings for ITSs that support the development of writing proficiency


affect, emotions, writing, intelligent tutoring systems

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