The effect of existential anxieties on emotions & feelings
Existentialism is the philosophy of the essence of human existence, its value, and its meaning (Panza & Gale, 2008). From the perspective of existentialism, existential anxieties (death, freedom, isolation, and meaninglessness) are specific intrinsic properties that are an unavoidable part of the human being's existence in the world (Yalom, 1980). Since both existential anxieties and emotions play significant role in human life, they are the main focus of the present study. Even though many existentialists talked about emotions (e.g., Kierkegaard, 1980/1844; Sartre, 1993/1948) and existential anxieties (e.g., Heidegger, 1962/1927; Yalom, 1980), there appeared almost no empirical study on the effects of those four existential anxieties on emotions. Thus, the main purpose of the present study to find out the effects of existential anxieties (death, freedom, isolation, and meaninglessness) on emotions/feelings. First, in order to identify emotion and feeling words, lexicography of Turkish emotion and feeling words made in the dictionary study. Also, in Pilot Study 1, an open-ended question about participants’ feelings about the existential anxiety texts were asked. By taking into consideration the literature, dictionary study, and content analysis of Pilot Study 1, 47 different Turkish emotion/feeling words were selected for the Emotions/Feelings Scale. Then, the factorability of the 47 items was examined. Accordingly, 30 items were used as a negative emotions/feelings score and 14 items were used a positive emotions/feelings scores. Second, in order to see whether different existential anxieties will affect the likings of different paintings, the Pilot Study 2 was conducted. After reading existential anxiety texts, participants were asked to write down what kind of photo, picture, or graphic they visualized in their mind about each concept of anxiety and also, the opposite concept of each anxiety. By taking into consideration the participants’ responses, 9 different paintings were selected according to 3 different categories (3 for each category). Paintings that include human figures, abstract, and nature paintings were used as 3 different categories. Finally, in the main study, the effect of type of existential anxieties on emotions/feelings and painting liking scores were examined. However, neither emotions/feelings nor the painting liking scores were significantly changed according to existential anxiety conditions. The possible reasons for these results were discussed.