KANSAS CITY, MO—Scientists at Hallmark Cards' Center for the Research and Development of Sentiments announced Monday that they had discovered three previously unknown emotions that can be experienced by human beings and captured on a folded piece of card stock.
"These new Hallmark-brand feelings will fill a void that has too long persisted in the consumable pleasantries market," said Hallmark president and CEO Don Hall, Jr., speaking to reporters in front of a watercolor backdrop of tulips beside a pond. "They will add a whole new level of complexity and nuance to the way we humans relate to one another, and will fill in any gaps left by our 'Thinking of You' and 'Just Because' categories."
The first emotion the project successfully isolated was "requiapathy," the combination of relief and guilt that comes with the sudden realization that you no longer miss a dead loved one. That discovery quickly led to the uncovering of "seprudity," the feeling of appreciating a coworker's dedication without fully understanding his or her job function, and "trepatiousness," a synthesis of rage and jealousy, though more muted and often accompanied by a sensation of weighlessness.
"[Trepatiousness] appears to be a very rare emotion, almost exclusively experienced while in a dream state," said principal investigator Dr. Susan McMurrough, a leader in the field of keepsake science best known for her work on the revolutionary "Blank Inside" line of cards. "The only way to activate it during waking hours, in fact, is with a combination of reds, oranges, and drowsy beagles in top hats."
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The three emotions represent the latest discovery in the center's ongoing Emotions Mapping Project, a $42.4 million effort to identify and codify all of the mental and physiological states generated within the human psyche that are not currently covered by Hallmark's extensive line of greeting cards and collectible ornaments.
In 2002, McMurrough monitored the MRI activity of nearly 10,000 test subjects between the ages of 25 and 40 as they described all emotions they had experienced in the past six months and rated each for its intensity, duration, and whether it would be conveyable to others by mail. To identify targets of further study, McMurrough's team referenced that data against a matrix of all possible combinations of the neurotransmitters that catalyze human emotion.
"Until now, millions of people worldwide were forced to express their sincere and heartfelt requiapathy, seprudity, and trepatiousness with clumsy words and gestures," Hall said. "Our colorful and succinct messages will spare them countless hours of inconvenience and potential misunderstandings."
After a second group of Hallmark scientists successfully replicated the initial study's results, the sentiments were immediately submitted to the U.S. Patent Office and rushed to Hallmark headquarters, where writers, illustrators, and graphic designers interpreted the new emotions in warm, concise verse; inoffensive, ingratiating humor; and reassuring pastel watercolors.
"This research is not only groundbreaking—it's inspirational," said Mallory Jefson, a writer for Hallmark's Best Wishes department, who added that the emotions have led them to creative heights not reached since Secretaries Day became Administrative Professionals Day in 2000. In a single day of brainstorming, Jefson and her colleagues developed 15 seprudity-based card concepts that incorporated cats in sunglasses, and 22 new coffee mugs featuring the tart-tongued, post-menopausal character Maxine expressing requiapathy.
The Hallmark laboratories have been at the forefront of the greeting card sciences since the '40s. Their work has led to the creation of eight federally recognized holidays, the specification of a time frame in which someone ought to get well, and over a dozen flower and cursive-font combinations that, sales figures show, have effectively conveyed the complex emotional and psychological states of an estimated 185 million Americans.