This seems to be reversed. Doesn't believing in the affective fallacy mean that you believe that the meaning of a literary work is dependent on its effect on the individual reader? The definition in this article seems more confusing than helpful. john k 23:51, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
Yes, that is somewhat correct and it is called a 'fallacy' because the New Critics object to this belief in the importance of emotional response in criticism. In understanding how Wimsatt and Beardsley came to construct the term 'Affective Fallacy', it helps to separate the words and have a look at their meanings:
The word ‘affective’ relates to ‘moods, feelings and attitudes’ and has its origin in late Middle English (via French from Latin: affectivus, from afficere; meaning ‘affect, influence).
The word 'Fallacy' refers to ‘a mistaken belief, especially one based on unsound arguments’ and was adapted from the Middle English fallace (from Latin fallacia, from fallax, fallac- ‘deceiving’, from fallere: meaning ‘deceive’).
In short, the authors argued that any criticism of poetry that included emotional response -or moods, feelings and attitudes- was a mistaken way for critics to demonstrate (or refute) literary merit or a text's meaning.
References; see 'affective' and 'fallacy' in Oxford Dictionary of English, Oxford University Press, Oxford Reference Online (2010)