Functional Accounts of Emotions

Cognition and Emotion 13 (5):467-480 (1999)
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Abstract

In this article we outline the history, elements, and variations of functional accounts of emotions. Summarising diverse theories and observations, we propose that functional accounts of emotions: (1) address why humans have emotions; (2) define emotions as solutions to problems and opportunities related to physical and social survival; (3) treat emotions as systems of interrelated components; and (4) focus on the beneficial consequences of emotions. This conceptual approach to emotion is complemented by several empirical strategies, including the study of emotion dysfunction, the effects of emotions on others, and the relations between emotions and personal and social outcomes. We conclude by considering how functional accounts of emotion vary, including in terms of their level of analysis, specificity, manner of organisation, and range of focus, and the implications functional accounts have for the study of emotion.

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References found in this work

The Emotions.Nico H. Frijda - 1986 - Cambridge University Press.
Functional analysis.Robert E. Cummins - 1975 - Journal of Philosophy 72 (November):741-64.
The Structure of Science.Ernest Nagel - 1961 - Les Etudes Philosophiques 17 (2):275-275.
Functions.Larry Wright - 1973 - Philosophical Review 82 (2):139-168.

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