We have hundreds of different stories collected at DePaul. One of these was arbitrarily selected for use in these exercises. It is a casually written narrative illustrating a morning in the life of two boys. Here is a sample of the type of input that we started with, cut from the middle of this first-person account (and note that Elliot in the story has no relation to C. Elliott the researcher):
Elliot and I had probably circled the block at least five times that day, making the point where we pass the tavern on the corner the checkered flag. (We did not keep count of how many races we won, only that we won.) Elliot was in the lead until I bumped his bike just before a hump. He didn't lose control long and soon we were side by side kicking at each other. Then my chain slipped and Elliot had taken the lead. He rode down to the corner before he had noticed that I had not caught up with him. He rode back toward me smiling, but he did not stop to help. Elliot passed me by and rode around the block before he stopped along the side of my bike. He still had that smile, and I had lost the humor in my situation. I told him to put my chain back on and, instead, he made some remark about his bike being better than mine. At this point I was ready to beat him up.
In analyzing the original, full, story we extracted, in part, the following elements relative to the Ortony, et al. theory, and the Affective Reasoning paradigm that extends it. This a representative sample of the detailed reasoning about the emotion fabric that can be performed on such narratives, and was performed on this particular narrative. The analysis is truncated in each case for the purpose of brevity. Italicized words represent concepts with extensive roots in the theory:
Elliot was pleased about achieving his goal of winning the race and was happy about this. Factors affecting the intensity of this emotion were: high effort, because he had worked toward this goal all day; high arousal, because of the physical nature of the activity; medium high importance because, being young, Elliot tended to get absorbed in the activity, and because in fact he very much did want to beat Rick; medium-low degree of achieving his goal because he only beat Rick once, and then only because Rick's chain had come off; etc.
Elliot was pleased that Rick had failed in Rick's own goal to beat Elliot, and was gloating over Rick's misfortune. Gloating is possible because Elliot was in an adversarial relationship with Rick during the course of the competition; etc.
Rick felt that Elliot was wrong for gloating over Rick's misfortune, and held him in reproach for this. The principle he held which lead to this appraisal might be stated as, ``Elliot should be subservient to me, and immediately help me when I need it.'' Importance of the principle was medium high; Surprisingness of the violation of the principle was high because Elliot had not stood up to Rick before; Certainty was low at this point, because, while suspicous that Elliot was gloating over him, Rick was not sure; etc.
Rick was starting to feel shame over having an inferior bike, and over having someone he always beat get the better of him. His principles might be stated as ``It is wrong of me to have an inferior bike than someone subservient to me,'' and ``It is wrong of me to be in an inferior position to Elliot;'' etc.
Rick was distressed that he had lost the race; etc.
Rick was distressed about being in an inferior position to Elliot. To the extent that this distress was caused by Elliot's blameworthy act of gloating, Rick was growing angry at Elliot; etc.