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Affect Imagery Consciousness


Affect Imagery Consciousness. Vol I: The Positive Affects


Tomkins S. (1962). New York: Springer.


Here Tomkins launches his magnum opus. The focal character of affect in motivating is set in contrast to the assumptions of behaviorism and psychoanalysis. Affect as an amplifier of its trigger is a biological mechanism giving an animal moving about in space information on the basis of which appropriate actions may be taken. The human face as the primary site of affect is a two way communication system telling the individual about the world, and telling the world about the individual. These innate affects operate in degrees of intensity. The positive ones dealt with in this volume are interest-excitement and enjoyment-joy. The neutral affect surprise-startle functions to reset attention.


Affect Imagery Consciousness. Vol II: The Negative Affects


Tomkins S. (1963). New York: Springer.


When published in 1963 Volume II of AIC presented a pioneering and radical view of the nature of human motivation. Here the negative affects of distress and shame are delineated. Much attention is given to the way in which the young individual is inadvertently socialized to manage these innate responses, and the various ways in which later, as adults, they manifest the consequences of this socialization. The impact of humiliation receives generous attention.


Affect Imagery Consciousness. Vol III: The Negative Affects: Anger and Fear


Tomkins S. (1991). New York: Springer.


A hiatus of 18 years separated the publication of volume III from volume II of Affect Imagery Consciousness. That gave valuable time for some modification and development of the theory as well as its application in a variety of contexts. The innate affects of anger and fear are center stage in this volume. Each of the nine affects is a major player in authoring the individual’s scripts which are written by the inevitable stimulus-affect-response sequences of everyday life. The years between volume II and volume III gave both the necessity and opportunity for Tomkins to summarize his work. Chapter 1 is especially valuable as he presents there a brief overview of the theory.


Affect Imagery Consciousness. Vol IV: Cognition: Duplication and Transformation of Information


Tomkins S. (1992). New York: Springer.


Tomkins ends Affect Imagery Consciousness with the consideration of Cognition. In doing so memory, perception, action, thought and emotion play their inter-dependent parts in the assembly of the human being. Individual freedom is the consequence of the marriage of affect and cognition, but this freedom is limited by biological and social systems. How imagery at the heart of memory is stored and retrieved receives considerable attention. Appeal is made to see the human being not in isolation but in the dramatic interplay of a bio-psycho-social system.

Exploring Affect

Exploring Affect: The Selected Writings of Silvan S Tomkins (Studies in Emotion and Social Interaction)

Edited by Virginia Demos, this book of selected writings by Silvan Tomkins is a great place to start if you are interested in engaging with Tomkins’ theories. The commentary by luminaries in the world of affect and emotion helps to contextualize and humanize the ideas and the man. The five parts of this book include extensive quotations from different segments of Tomkins’ work: Affect Theory, Affect and Ideology, The Face of Affect, Script Theory, and Human Being Theory. Each part contains an introduction and comments by persons familiar with that aspect of Tomkins. It also includes work not published elsewhere. An excellent introduction to Tomkins’ writings before tackling Affect Imagery Consciousness.

Selected Articles

What and where are the primary affects? Some evidence for a theory
SS Tomkins, R MC Carter – Perceptual and motor skills, 1964 –

We have argued (Tomkins, 1962) that affective responses are the primary motives of human beings. We have further assumed that affects are primarily facial behaviors and secondarily outer skeletal and inner visceral behavior. When we become aware of these …


Facial affect scoring technique: A first validity study
P Ekman, WV Friesen, SS Tomkins – Semiotica, 1971 –

Our first decision was to develop FAST in terms of emotion categories (happiness, anger, surprise, etc.) rather than emotion dimensions (pleasantness-unpleasantness, active-passive, etc.). The decision was based on three considerations. First, more past work …


Affect, cognition, and personality: empirical studies.
SS Tomkins, CE Izard – 1965 –

Abstract: A broad range of studies of determinants as well as expression of affect are presented, usually accompanied by theoretical contributions. Harvard Book List (edited) 1971# 395 


The role of facial response in the experience of emotion: A reply to Tourangeau and Ellsworth.
SS Tomkins – 1981 –

Abstract: Replies to R. Tourangeau and PC Ellsworth (see record 1981-00499-001), who tested a hypothesis about the role of voluntarily innervated facial responses in the experience of emotion and disconfirmed that hypothesis. The present author’s theory …


Affects: The Primary Motives of Man
SS Tomkins – Humanitas, 1968 –

Abstract: The affects are our primary motives and are primarily facial responses.  There are 8 innate affects: the positive ones are interest or excitement, enjoyment or joy, surprise or startle.  The negative ones are distress or anguish, fear or terror, shame or humiliation, contempt or disgust, and anger or rage.  All 8 are discussed.

Primary site of the affects: The face
SS Tomkins – 1962 –

Abstract: The low visibility of the affects and the difficulties to be encountered in attempting to identify the primary affects have already been described. Yet our task is not as difficult as it might otherwise have been, for the primary affects, before the transformations due to …


On relations among perceptual and cognitive measures of information processing
P Suedfeld, SS Tomkins, WH Tucker – Perception & psychophysics, 1969 – Springer

Abstract: Tests of visual information processing and verbal information processing were administered to 178 Ss. Intercorrelations showed low positive relationships between two sets of two cognitive measures each, the Sentence Completion Test (Schroder, Driver, & …


SS Tomkins – 1987 –

Abstract: General theory of affect and the specific theory for shame/review his [the author’s] position in terms of our current interest in the superego and the emotions called shame and guilt 

Psychological model for smoking behavior
SS Tomkins – American Journal of Public Health and the …, 1966 –

Why do human beings smoke at all? Do they smoke for different reasons? What can we do about different kinds of smoking? These are the questions which I will try to answer. First, why do human beings smoke at all? The question has at present no certain answer.

The experience of affect as a determinant of smoking behavior: a series of validity studies
FF Ikard, S Tomkins – Journal of abnormal psychology, 1973 –

Abstract 1. Conducted a series of 4 studies testing the validity of self-report data on the Tomkins-Ikard Smoking Scale concerning types of smoking. The hypothesis that smoking is related to source affect experience was supported in a study with 57 undergraduates and …

Script theory: Differential magnification of affects
SS Tomkins – Nebraska symposium on motivation, 1978 –

Abstract: The script theory originally presented by the author at the Fourteenth International Congress of Psychology (Montreal, Canada; 1954) is modified in 4 ways: (1) the theory of affect as amplification is now specified as analogic amplification; (2) he presently believes that the skin of the face, rather than its musculature, is the major mechanism of analogic amplification; (3) a substantial quantity of the affect that individuals experience as adults is pseudo, backed-up affect; and (4) affect amplifies not only its own activator, but also the response to both that activator and to itself. According to script theory, the scene—an event with a perceived beginning and end—is the basic unit of analysis; the connected set of scenes lived in sequence is called the “plot” of life. However, the script does not deal with all the scenes or the plot, but rather with the individual’s rules for predicting, interpreting, responding to, and controlling a magnified set of scenes.

Scripting the macho man: Hypermasculine socialization and enculturation
DL Mosher, SS Tomkins – Journal of Sex Research, 1988 – Taylor & Francis

Tomkins’ (1979) script theory offers a coherent, heuristic, and elegant account of the macho personality constellation (Mosher & Sirkin, 1984), consisting of: (a) callous sexual attitudes, (b) violence as manly, and (c) danger as exciting. A script is a set of rules for interpreting, directing, defending, and creating the scenes making up the life of the macho man. The macho script organizes childhood scenes in which so‐called “superior, masculine” affects—like excitement and anger—were socialized to be favored over so‐called “inferior, feminine” affects—like distress and fear. Furthermore, both adolescent rites of passage in male youth social networks and processes of enculturation in the American culture and its mass media continue that hypermasculine socialization. The ideological script of machismo descends from the ideology of the warrior and the stratifications following warfare—victor and vanquished, master and slave, the head of the house and woman as his complement, the patriarch and his children. The personality script of the macho man and his ideology of machismo mutually amplify one another —simultaneously justifying his lifestyle and celebrating his world view. In his dangerous, adversarial world of scarce resources, his violent, sexually callous, and dangerous physical acts express his “manly” essence.

Complete Bibliography

Tomkins. S.S. (1955). Consciousness and the unconscious in a model of the human being. Proceedings XIV International Congress of Psychology, Montreal, I.C.P.

Tomkins. S. S. (1956).  La conscience el I’ inconscient representates dans une modele de l’etre humain. I. J. Lacan (Ed.). La psychoanalyse (Vol. I). Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

Tomkins. S. S., and McCarter. R. (1964) What and where are the primary affects? Some evidence for a theory. Perceptual and Motor Skills. 18(1), 119-158.

Tomkins, S. S. (1965) A Psychological Model of Smoking Behavior. American Journal of Public Health Part II. 56,12:17 (Dec.), 1966.

Tomkins, S.S. (1966). Psychological model for smoking behavior. Am J Public Health Nations Health.; 56(12 Suppl): Suppl 56–56:20.

Tomkins, Silvan S. (1969). Free will and the degrees-of-freedom principle. In: R.B. MacLeod (Ed). William James: Unfinished business. Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association, pp. 103-106.   doi: 10.1037/10549-013  

Ekman, P., Friesen, W.V, & Tomkins, S.S. (1971). Facial affect scoring technique, (FAST) a first validity study. Semiotica, 3(1), 37-38.

Ikard, F. F., Tomkins, S. (1973). The experience of affect as a determinant of smoking behavior: A series of validity studies. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 81(2), 172-181. doi: 10.1037/h0034555

Tomkins. S. S. (1975).The phantasy behind the face. Journal of Personality Assessment. 39. 551-562.

Tomkins. S. S. (1979). Script theory: Differential magnification of affects. In H. E. Howe, Jr., & R. A. Dienstbier (Eds.). Nebraska Symposium on Motivation (Vol.26). Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

Tomkins, S.S. and D. H. Horn (1980).  Why do you smoke?  NIH publication No. 80-1822A.

Tomkins. S. S. (1981). The quest for primary motives: Biography and autobiography of an idea. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 41(2). 306­-329.

Tomkins. S. S. (1981). The rise. fall and resurrection of the study of personality. Journal of Mind and Behavior  2(4). 443-452.

Tomkins, S.S. (1987).  Affects –Primary motives of man.  Institute of Man Symposium on Motivation and Human Need, February 18, 1987   

Tomkins. S. S. (1963). The right and the left: A basic di­mension of ideology and personality. In R. W. White (Ed.).  The study of lives. New York: Atherton.

Tomkins. S. S. (1965). Affect and the psychology of knowledge. In S. S. Tomkins & C. E. Izard (Eds.). Affect Cognition and Personality. New York: Springer Pub. Co.

Tomkins. S. S., (1965).  The Psychology of Commitment.  Part 1: The constructive role of violence and suffering for the individual and for his society.  In: S.S. Tomkins & C.E. Izard (Eds.). Affect, Cognition and Personality. New York: Springer Publishing Co, pp. 148-171.

Tomkins. S. S. (1971). A theory of memory. In J. Antrobus (Ed.). Cognition and Affect. Boston: Little. Brown.

Tomkins. S. S. (1982). Affect theory. In P. Ekman, W. V. Friesen. & P. Ellsworth (Eds.). Emotion in the Human Face (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Tomkins. S. S. (1987), Script Theory. In  J. Aronoff, A. I. Rubin, and R. A. Zucker (Eds.), The Emergence of Personality (pp. 147-216). New York: Springer Publishing Company.


Tomkins. S. S. (1946). The Thematic Apperception Test.  With the collaboration of E.L. Tomkins. BA. New York: Grune & Stratton.

Tomkins. S. S., and  Miner (1957). The Tomkins-Horn Picture Arrangement Test. New York: Springer Publishing Co.

Tomkins. S. S., and Miner. J. B. (1959) PAT Interpretation. New York: Springer Publishing Co.

Tomkins. S. S. (1962). Affect Imagery Consciousness (Vol. 1). New York: Springer Publishing Co.

Tomkins. S. S. (1963). Affect Imagery Consciousness (Vol. 2). New York: Springer Publishing Co.

Tomkins S. S. and Coale, A. J., Fallers, L. A., Levy, M. J., Schneider, D. M. (1965) Aspects of the analysis of family structure. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Tomkins. S. S., and Izard C. E. (1965). Affect, Cognition and Personality. New York: Springer Publishing Co.

Tomkins. S. S. (1991). Affect Imagery Consciousness (Vol. 3). New York: Springer Publishing Co.

Tomkins. S. S. (1992). Affect Imagery Consciousness (Vol. 4). New York: Springer Publishing Co.

Tomkins S. S. (2008). Affect Imagery Consciousness The complete edition, Vols. I and II. New York: Springer Publishing Company.

Tomkins S. S. (2008). Affect Imagery Consciousness The complete edition. Vols. III and IV. New York: Springer Publishing Company.



Tomkins. S. S. (1943)  (Ed.) Contemporary Psychopathology. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Tomkins. S. S. and Reed, C., Alexander. I. (Eds) (1958).  Psychopathology. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Tomkins. S. S., and Messick, S. (Eds.) (1963). Computer Simulation of Personality: Frontier of psychological theory. New York: Wiley.

Demos, E.V. (Ed) (1995). Exploring Affect.  New York: Cambridge University Press.

Sedgwick, E.K. and Frank, A (1995).   Shame and its Sisters: A Silvan Tomkins Reader.  Durham: Duke University Press.


Nathanson, Donald L. (1992). Shame and Pride: Affect, Sex, and the birth of the self. New York: Norton.

Holinger, Paul C. (2003). What Babies Say Before They Can Talk. New York: Fireside

Lynch, Brian (2010). Knowing Your Emotions: Twelve steps to emotional health. Chicago: Interest Books.

Papers at the Center for the History of Psychology

This collection contains correspondence, papers and manuscripts of Tomkins. These are arranged alphabetically by last name of author. Among the topics discussed include: depression; APA Division 26 Symposium; Nuclearity; & Polarity Scale.”

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