Wundt's three-dimensional theory of emotion

ABSTRACT. This chapter presents a reconstruction of Wilhelm Wundt's (1896) three-dimensional theory of emotion from the perspective of the structuralist approach to scientific theories. Wundt's theory, a quantitative theory of the structure of emotional experience, is reconstructed as a small theory-net consisting of the basic theory-element TE(WUNDT) and specializations of this element. The main substantive axiom of TE(WUNDT) postulates that human emotions result from the fusion of a characteristic 'mixture' of six basic forms of feeling: Pleasure, displeasure, excitement, inhibition (tranquillization), tension, and relaxation. A second axiom holds that the basic feeling types are organized into three bipolar dimensions, and the third axiom claims that the basic feelings experienced toward complex objects are a fusion of the corresponding basic feelings directed at the components of the complex objects. Specializations of the theory result from different possible specifications of the central fusion axiom. It appears that only one concept of the theory is T-theoretical, namely the function q which assigns characteristic proportions of basic feelings to the nonbasic emotions. The intended applications of the theory are discussed, and the reconstruction is appraised.
Keywords emotion  emotional experience  dimensional theories of emotion  Wundt, W.  Structuralism (philosophy of science)  semantic view of theories
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Theodore Mischel (1970). Wundt and the Conceptual Foundations of Psychology. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 31 (September):1-26.

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