Even though they both have full plates of research and teaching responsibilities, Richard J. Davidson, PhD, and Klaus R. Scherer, PhD, decided the opportunity to pioneer a new journal devoted to emotion research was too tempting to pass up.
"Over the past decade there has been an explosion of research and funding in this area and the recognition that emotion is fundamental to so much of human life," says Davidson. "It was really visionary of APA to launch a journal in this area, and I feel morally committed to seeing Emotion get off on the right foot."
Debuting next spring, Emotion will be an outlet for studies that explore the innumerable environmental, physiological and cognitive factors underlying emotions.
Scherer and Davidson want the journal to cover all subfields of psychology and scientific disciplines that have a stake in emotion research, which include biology, neuroscience, behavioral medicine, anthropology and sociology.
"This journal will be a real unifying force," says Davidson. "We want it to be broad enough to include the whole range of affective research from the 'softer' side of psychology through hard-nosed molecular science."
Allowing Davidson and Scherer to collaborate as co-editors of Emotion is an experimental move for APA journals, which typically have just one editor. Sharing the job makes it possible for them to balance editorial responsibilities on top of heavy workloads, and their combined expertise will allow the journal to reach a broad audience: Davidson, a professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of WisconsinMadison with expertise in psychopathology and neuroscience and research interest in the brain bases of normal and disordered emotion, paired with Scherer, an emotion psychologist at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, with research interests in cognitive antecedents and expression of emotion, will give the journal the breadth of knowledge needed to embrace an expansive topic such as emotion.
"Emotion cannot be relegated to a single constituency," says Scherer. "Emotion is such a general phenomenon that you need to take many different areas and disciplines into account."
Co-editing Emotion isn't Davidson and Scherer's first joint venture. The two were faculty members of the National Institute of Mental Health Emotion Postdoc Training Program together, are involved in a joint research project and are co-editing a book series on affective science and the "Handbook for Affective Science," both for Oxford University Press.
Nor are they strangers to breaking new ground: Scherer co-founded the International Society for Research on Emotion, a society that like Emotion, was formed to focus the interests of people working in the area of affective phenomena. And Davidson is heading one of the five new mind-body research centers recently funded by the National Institutes of Health as part of a five-year $10 million national research agenda on mind-body interactions and health.
Along those lines, Davidson and Scherer are interested in seeing Emotion explore new territory.
"I'd like to see articles that provide a much more detailed account of the process of emotion elicitation and reaction," says Scherer, "to look at the neurocognitive ways in which appraisal is conducted and how that affects the physiological system. Psychologists have never really looked at this."
The relationship between music and emotion is another area he sees as brimming with exciting questions. "Does music really produce emotion, and if so, why?" asks Scherer. "Music has an extraordinary effect on people and we really haven't studied that."
To extend the scope of the journal's leadership even further, Scherer and Davidson selected four associate editors who represent different subfields of psychology: Mary Rothbart, PhD, of the University of Oregon is a developmental psychologist; Michael Posner, PhD, of Cornell Medical School and the University of Oregon is a cognitive psychologist and cognitive neuroscientist; Peter Salovey, PhD, of Yale University has expertise in social and health psychology; and Arne Öhman, PhD, of the Karolinska Institute and Hospital in Sweden, has a physiology and clinical background.
"Overall, we hope to expand our definition of emotional processes to be more inclusive," says Davidson. "We'd like to see investigators who don't normally think of themselves as emotion researchers use the journal as a publication outlet."