Anticipation (1909) by Harrison Fisher

Anticipation is an emotion involving pleasure or anxiety in considering or awaiting an expected event. Anticipatory emotions include fear, anxiety, hope and trust.[1] When the anticipated event fails to occur, it results in disappointment (for a positive event) or relief (for a negative one).

As a defence mechanism

Robin Skynner considered anticipation as one of "the mature ways of dealing with real stress.... You reduce the stress of some difficult challenge by anticipating what it will be like and preparing for how you are going to deal with it".[2] There is evidence that "the use of mature defenses (sublimation, anticipation) tended to increase with age",[3] yet anticipation of negative events itself tends to decrease with age.[4]


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Anticipation has been described as "the central ingredient in sexual desire."[5][attribution needed] As "sex has a major cognitive component — the most important element for desire is positive anticipation".[6][attribution needed] One name for pleasurable anticipation is excitement.[attribution needed][citation needed]

More broadly, anticipation is a central motivating force in everyday life — "the normal process of imaginative anticipation of, or speculation about, the future".[7] To enjoy one's life, "one needs a belief in Time as a promising medium to do things in; one needs to be able to suffer the pains and pleasures of anticipation and deferral".[8][attribution needed]

In music

There are several theories explaining anticipation in music. Two prominent theories are the neurological theories of Chase that attribute expectation building and anticipation both to inherent neurological pitch evolution (Darwinian selection as pitch/rhythm/harmony communication response expectation) and the related skillful use of chord sequences (holding V7 until expectations are met with E, A, B7, or the well-known Am/D7/G tease-satisfy sequence, with variations in the wheel of fifths).

A second well-accepted theory is Huron's "ITPRA" 5 module theory of expectation, where previous imaginative tension hits the event onset/horizon, with prediction and reaction oscillating (alternating) in the response system, and resulting in appraisal feedback.[9][10]

From a global perspective, even given thousands of varying scale types worldwide, there is a universal human sense of satisfaction in the return to that scale's tonic (for example, C, in the major scale, key, and tonic of C major).[11]

In the context of the broader topic of Music and emotion, Juslin & Västfjäll's BRECVEM model includes, as its seventh element, Musical expectation.[12]

Technically, anticipation also refers specifically to a type of nonchord tone.

Note: This section refers to the process of generating the thought or feeling of anticipation in music. For titles of songs with the word "anticipation", see Anticipation (disambiguation).

In phenomenology

For phenomenological philosopher Edmund Husserl, anticipation is an essential feature of human action. "In every action we know the goal in advance in the form of an anticipation that is 'empty', in the sense of vague...and [we] seek by our action to bring it step by step to concrete realization".[16]

See also


  1. ^ Miceli, Maria; Castelfranchi, Cristiano (2014-11-27). Expectancy and emotion. OUP Oxford. ISBN 978-0-19-150927-8.
  2. ^ Robin Skynner/John Cleese, Life and how to survive it (London 1994) p. 55
  3. ^ Hope R.Conte/Robert Plutchik, Ego Defenses (1995) p. 127
  4. ^ Erk, Susanne; Walter, Henrik; Abler, Birgit (2008-03-05). "Age-related physiological responses to emotion anticipation and exposure". NeuroReport. 19 (4): 447–452. doi:10.1097/WNR.0b013e3282f5d92f. ISSN 0959-4965. PMID 18287944. S2CID 39210306.
  5. ^ Barry and Emily McCarthy, Rekindling Desire (2003), p. 89.
  6. ^ McCarthy, p. 12
  7. ^ Colin Campbell, The Romantic Ethic and the Spirit of Modern Consumerism (2005) p. 83
  8. ^ Adam Phillips, On Flirtation (London 1994) p. 47
  9. ^ Wayne Chase, How Music Really Works (Vancouver, 2006), ISBN 1-897311-55-9, pp. 434, 621
  10. ^ David Huron, Sweet Anticipation, Music and the psychology of expectation (Cambridge, 2006), ISBN 978-0-262-58278-0, p. 17
  11. ^ Michael Hewitt, Musical Scales of the World (London, 2013), ISBN 978-095-7547-001, p. 11 et al
  12. ^ Juslin, Liljeström, Västfjäll, & Lundqvist. (2010). "How does music evoke emotions? Exploring the underlying mechanisms." In P.N. Juslin & J. Sloboda (Eds.), Handbook of Music and Emotion: Theory, Research, and Applications (pp. 605-642). Oxford: Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0199604968.
  13. ^ "Robert Plutchik's Psychoevolutionary Theory of Basic Emotions" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-06-05.
  14. ^ Jonathan Turner (1 June 2000). On the Origins of Human Emotions: A Sociological Inquiry Into the Evolution of Human Affect. Stanford University Press. p. 76. ISBN 978-0-8047-6436-0.
  15. ^ Atifa Athar; M. Saleem Khan; Khalil Ahmed; Aiesha Ahmed; Nida Anwar (June 2011). "A Fuzzy Inference System for Synergy Estimation of Simultaneous Emotion Dynamics in Agents". International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research. 2 (6).
  16. ^ E. Husserl, in Alfred Schutz, The Phenomenology of the Social World (Illinois 1997), p. 58