Merriam-Webster defines Anticipation as,

: a feeling of excitement about something that is going to happen

: the act of preparing for something

Anticipation is the opposite emotion pair with Surprise. While Surprise arises when something does not happen as predicted or when there is an unanticipated event, Anticipation is different. Anticipation is the emotion when we prepare for and expect a specific result. With Anticipation, we project ourselves into the future, visualize a result, and then experience the emotions we will feel in the future.

We use Anticipation to prepare for different future outcomes. We imagine ourselves in these different futures, and think of our emotions in each different situation. These outcomes may be positive or negative, and so Anticipation enables us to experience different emotions without actually experiencing those situations. For example:

  • Excitement or Happiness – When we buy a lottery ticket or when we gamble, we anticipate our emotion if we were to win. We have a sense of pleasure or excitement when that will happen. We may also have a sense of happiness as we think about how we could spend the huge amount of money we will win.
  • Remorse – When we go shopping and like two items, but can buy only one of them. We think, “Will I regret not buying the other item?” We Anticipate the remorse in buying the wrong item.
  • Anxiety – When we go into our doctor’s office to hear a diagnosis, we visualize many different possible outcomes. As we Anticipate which one of these scenarios will come true, we worry about the suffering associated with each scenario and suffer from anxiety.
  • Stress – We have to give a speech in front of an audience. We feel our sweaty palms, the racing heart, and the shortness of breath. We Anticipate different outcomes while speaking – whether it will be well received or if we will forget what we have to say – leading to a feeling of stress.
  • Fear – We sit in the waiting for a root canal in a Dentist’s office, and we tell ourselves the story that it will hurt, that it will take a long time, that we won’t be able to eat. We Anticipate physical discomfort and feel fear at the upcoming procedure.

Because the emotion of Anticipation helps us imagine a rich set of different emotions, it is widely used in popular culture.

Carly Simon sings of Anticipation in her popular song.

Advertisers use Anticipation to create memorable commercials, as in this classic Heinz Ketchup TV commercial.

In the Caricature series of sketches, the artist uses the image of a human being watching sand trickle down the hourglass bulb. Something is going to happen as the top bulb empties out. We can see the complete focus on the event and the thoughts running their head. Physically, excitement is demonstrated through the hands on the hourglass, the closeness to the body, the raised eyebrows, and the smile. The person is excited in Anticipation of the event.

The emotion Anticipation in the Caricature series of sketches.

The emotion Anticipation in the Caricature series of sketches.

The Watercolors artist used a different approach. Here we are the audience watching the sketch, and we see the human hand with the ball and the dog panting in expectation. We can Anticipate exactly what will happen next. The human will throw the ball and the dog will dart after it. The dog will clench the ball in its mouth and bound back to its master with a feeling of satisfaction and pleasure. Our Anticipation of events is clear and unambiguous.

The emotion Anticipation in the Watercolor series of sketches.

The emotion Anticipation in the Watercolor series of sketches.