Defining “emotion” is a notorious problem. Without consensual conceptualization and operationalization of exactly what phenomenon is to be studied, progress in theory and research is difficult to achieve and fruitless debates are likely to proliferate. A particularly unfortunate example is William James’s asking the question “What is an emotion?” when he really meant “feeling”, a misnomer that started a debate which is still ongoing, more than a century later. This contribution attempts to sensitize researchers in the social and behavioral sciences (...) to the importance of definitional issues and their consequences for distinguishing related but fundamentally different affective processes, states, and traits. Links between scientific and folk concepts of emotion are explored and ways to measure emotion and its components are discussed. (shrink)
A definition of emotion common to the affective sciences is an urgent desideratum. Lack of such a definition is a constant source of numerous misunderstandings and a series of mostly fruitless debates. There is little hope that there ever will be agreement on a common definition of emotion, given the sacred traditions of the disciplines involved and the egos of the scholars working in these disciplines. Our aim here is more modest. We propose a list of elements for a working (...) definition of emotion and discuss the justification for the inclusion of elements from our respective perspectives. This working partial definition may at least serve as a litmus test to examine theories of emotion, old and new, across disciplinary boundaries. (shrink)
This article suggests that methodological and conceptual advancements in affective sciences militate in favor of adopting an appraisal-driven componential approach to further investigate the emotional brain. Here we propose to operationalize this approach by distinguishing five functional networks of the emotional brain: the elicitation network, the expression network, the autonomic reaction network, the action tendency network, and the feeling network, and discuss these networks in the context of the affective neuroscience literature. We also propose that further investigating the “appraising brain” (...) is the royal road to better understand the elicitation network, and may be key to revealing the neural causal mechanisms underlying the emotion process as a whole. (shrink)
Appraisal theories of emotion have had a strong impact on the development of theory and experimental research in the domain of the affective sciences. While there is generally a high degree of convergence between theorists in this tradition, some central issues are open to debate. In this contribution three issues have been chosen for discussion: (a) varieties of relevance detection, (b) varieties of valence appraisal, and (c) sequential-cumulative effects of appraisal results. In addressing these issues, new theoretical ideas are suggested (...) and an update of recent research on the sequence of appraisal processes is provided. Special emphasis is placed on nonverbal signatures of appraisal processes. (shrink)
Modeling emotion processes remains a conceptual and methodological challenge in affective sciences. In responding to the other target articles in this special section on “Emotion and the Brain” and the comments on our article, we address the issue of potentially separate brain networks subserving the functions of the different emotion components. In particular, we discuss the suggested role of component synchronization in producing information integration for the dynamic emergence of a coherent emotion process, as well as the links between incentive (...) salience and concern-relevance in the elicitation of emotion. (shrink)
Taking our lead from Solomon’s emphasis on the importance of the intentional object of emotion, we review the history of repeated attempts to make this object disappear. We adduce evidence suggesting that in the case of James and Schachter, the intentional object got lost unintentionally. By contrast, modern constructivists seem quite determined to deny the centrality of the intentional object in accounting for the occurrence of emotions. Griffiths, however, downplays the role objects have in emotion noting that these do not (...) qualify as intentional. We argue that these disappearing acts, deliberate or not, generate fruitless debate and add little to the advancement of our understanding of emotion as an adaptive mechanism to cope with events that are relevant to an organism’s life. (shrink)
Models of cognitive vulnerability claim that depressive symptoms arise as a result of an interaction between negative affect and cognitive reactions, in the form of dysfunctional attitudes and negative inferential style. We present a model that complements this approach by focusing on the appraisal processes that elicit and differentiate everyday episodes of emotional experience, arguing that individual differences in appraisal patterns can foster negative emotional experiences related to depression. In particular, dispositional appraisal biases facilitating the elicitation of these emotions more (...) frequently and more intensely. This, in turn, is likely to have a negative influence on cognitive processing and emotion regulation in general. (shrink)
In this paper we discuss the issue of the processes potentially underlying the emergence of emotional consciousness in the light of theoretical considerations and empirical evidence. First, we argue that componential emotion models, and specifically the Component Process Model , may be better able to account for the emergence of feelings than basic emotion or dimensional models. Second, we advance the hypothesis that consciousness of emotional reactions emerges when lower levels of processing are not sufficient to cope with the event (...) and regulate the emotional process, particularly when the degree of synchronization between the components reaches a critical level and duration. Third, we review recent neuroscience evidence that bolsters our claim of the central importance of the synchronization of neuronal assemblies at different levels of processing. (shrink)
We highlight the need to focus on the underlying determinants and production mechanisms to fully understand the nature of facial expression of emotion and to settle the theoretical debate about the meaning of motor expression. Although emotion theorists have generally remained rather vague about the details of the process, this has been a central concern of componential appraisal theories. We describe the fundamental assumptions and predictions of this approach regarding the patterning of facial expressions for different emotions. We also review (...) recent evidence for the assumption that specific facial muscle movements may be reliable symptoms of certain appraisal outcomes and that facial expressions unfold over time on the basis of a sequence of appraisal check results. (shrink)
Little is known about the impact of context on the meaning of emotion words. In the present study, we used a semantic profiling instrument to investigate features representing five emotion components of 11 emotion words in situational contexts involving success or failure. We compared these to the data from an earlier study in which participants evaluated the typicality of features out of context. Profile analyses identified features for which typicality changed as a function of context for all emotion words, except (...) contentment, with appraisal features being most frequently affected. Those context effects occurred for both hypothesised basic and non-basic emotion words. Moreover, both data sets revealed a four-dimensional structure. The four dimensions were largely similar. The results suggest that context may not change the underlying dimensionality but affects facets of the meaning of emotion words. (shrink)
I strongly endorse many of the suggestions made by the authors of the extremely useful reviews in this issue. In particular, the need to identify the complex causal mechanisms underlying the major health risk factors requires urgent attention of the research community. I suggest considering the important role of emotional disturbances as contributors to health risks given the empirically established comorbidity between mental and somatic illness. Better knowledge of these mechanisms is an essential prerequisite to develop tailored personalized prevention and (...) intervention programs, including reliable and valid assessment of deficits. (shrink)
'Affective computing' is a branch of computing concerned with the theory and construction of machines which can detect, respond to, and simulate human emotional states. This book presents an interdisciplinary exploration of this rapidly expanding field, aimed at those in psychology, computational neuroscience, computer science, and AI. A Blueprint for Affective Computing: A sourcebook and manual is the very first attempt to ground affective computing within the disciplines of psychology, affective neuroscience, and philosophy. This book illustrates the contributions of each (...) of these disciplines to the development of the ever-growing field of affective computing. In addition, it demonstrates practical examples of cross-fertilization between disciplines in order to highlight the need for integration of computer science, engineering and the affective sciences. (shrink)
Diagnosing emotion disturbances should be informed by current knowledge about normal emotion processes. I identify four major functions of emotion as well as sources for potential dysfunctions and suggest that emotions should only be diagnosed as pathological when they are clearly dysfunctional, which requires considering eliciting events, realistic person-specific appraisal patterns, and adaptive responses or action tendencies. Evidence from actuarial research on the reported length of naturally occurring emotion episodes illustrates appropriateness criteria for the clinical evaluation of emotion duration—an essential (...) element in the DSM-5 symptom catalogue for major depression episodes, especially in bereavement. The need for more actuarial evidence on normal emotion responses and its consideration by the clinical community is highlighted. (shrink)
ABSTRACTAppraisal theories of emotion, and particularly the Component Process Model, claim that the different components of the emotion process are essentially driven by the results of cognitive appraisals and that the feeling component constitutes a central integration and representation of these processes. Given the complexity of the proposed architecture, comprehensive experimental tests of these predictions are difficult to perform and to date are lacking. Encouraged by the “lexical sedimentation” hypothesis, here we propose an indirect examination of the compatibility of the (...) theoretical assumptions with the semantic structure of a set of major emotion words as measured in a cross-language and cross-cultural study. Specifically, we performed a secondary analysis of the large-scale data set with ratings of affective features covering all components of the emotion process for 24 emotion words in 27 countries, constituting... (shrink)
ABSTRACTEmotion understanding, which can broadly be defined as expertise in the meaning of emotion, is a core component of emotional intelligence and facilitates better intra- and interpersonal outcomes. However, to date only very few standard tests to measure emotion understanding in healthy adults exist. Here, we present two new performance-based tests that were developed and are scored based on componential emotion theory and large-scale cross-cultural empirical findings. These instruments intend to measure facets of emotion understanding that are not included in (...) existing tests. The first test measures the ability to understand and label emotional experiences of a target person from a description of emotion features covering five emotion components embedded in a written vignette. The second test measures semantic knowledge about which features from each component a... (shrink)
I reject Lindquist et al.'s implicit claim that all emotion theories other than constructionist ones subscribe to a approach. The neural mechanisms underlying relevance detection, reward, attention, conceptualization, or language use are consistent with many theories of emotion, in particular componential appraisal theories. I also question the authors' claim that the meta-analysis they report provides support for the specific assumptions of constructionist theories.
While the emotion mechanism is generally considered to be evolutionarily continuous, suggesting a certain degree of universality of emotional responding, there is evidence that emotional experience may differ across cultures and historical periods. This article extrapolates potential changes in future emotional experiences that can be expected to be caused by rapid social and technological change. Specifically, four issues are discussed: the effect of social change on emotions that are strongly tied to dominant values, norms, goals, and self-ideals, like shame, guilt, (...) contempt, and anger; the effects of the use of emotion by the mass media on emotional experience and emotion socialization; the effects of information technology on emotion expression and regulation; and the possibility of producing artificial emotions in autonomous agents. Special emphasis is placed on the class of emotions, defined here as “commotions”, that are produced by observing affect in others. (shrink)
In this book, which was originally published in 1992, Klaus Scherer brought together leading scholars from the social sciences to discuss theoretical and empirical studies of justice. They examined the nature of justice from the perspective of philosophy, economics, law, sociology and psychology, and explored possible lines of convergence. A critical examination of theories of justice from Plato and Aristotle, through Marx, to Rawls and Habermas heads a collection which addresses the role of justice in economics and the law and (...) which evaluates sociological and psychological stances in relation to justice distributive and procedural. All the material is of clear cross-disciplinary interest; and this broad and authoritative survey of thinking on the topic will appeal to all researchers in the area, whatever their background, as well as to those confronting issues of justice in law politics and business. (shrink)
The issues addressed in this commentary include: (1) the appropriate conceptualization of “appraisal”; (2) the nature and unfolding of emotional episodes over time; (3) the interrelationships between the dynamic elements of the appraisal process and their effects on other emotion components, as well as repercussions on ongoing appraisal in a recursive process; and (4) the use of brain research to constrain and inform models of emotion.
The connections between emotion and rationality are reexamined. Historically, Plato’s doctrine of the tripartite soul has established the preconception of a strict separation of emotion/passion from cognition/rationality, encouraging the biased perception that emotions are inherently irrational. To examine whether emotions can be rational, one must first examine the various meanings of rationality as developed in philosophy, psychology and the social and economic sciences. In this article, three forms of rationality are distinguished, and it is suggested that they can act as (...) criteria to judge the rationality of emotions. Furthermore, before examining the possible relationships between emotion and rationality, the concept of emotion needs a more precise definition. A convergent definition of emotion is proposed in the form of a componential model that is based on an appraisal mechanism that produces tendencies for action to deal rapidly with important and urgent events in an individual’s life. It is demonstrated that emotions can be more or less correct or appropriate depending on the accuracy or realism of the underlying appraisal, the appropriateness of the response pattern and the efficacy of the emotion regulation. Considered in the framework of this componential model, it is suggested that emotions can be assessed as to whether, in a particular situation, they are adaptive, based on well-grounded, accurate inference from available information and considered as reasonable reactions by others. Emotions can be considered rational when they fulfill at least one of these three criteria of rationality. (shrink)
We conclude that the commentators seem to fundamentally agree on the substance of our proposal of a partial real definition of emotion as a dynamic episode which has to fulfill a certain number of conditions to count as a member of the class. We raise the issue of prescriptive functions of a definition, suggesting parallels to biomedical ontologies. We also clarify the issues of linguistic and cultural relativity and of differences in the nature of individual emotions.
A large body of research suggests arm extension and arm flexion to be indicators of automatically generated withdrawal and approach motivation, respectively. However, such a view has not remained unchallenged. Recent research suggests that the motivational significance of arm movements may be largely context dependent. The aim of this research was to demonstrate that an essential facilitating context factor for arm movements relies on the desirability of their expected outcomes. Participants viewed negative and positive stimulus material and were asked to (...) concurrently perform either an arm extension or an arm flexion. Arm movements were embedded in a meaningful context, leading to a stimulus size decrease or increase; and thus giving the visual illusion of withdrawing from the stimulus or approaching it. Results show that the significance of arm movements is indeed influenced by the desirability of their respective effects. (shrink)
Aesthetic emotions are elicited by different sensory impressions generated by music, visual arts, literature, theater, film, or nature scenes. Recently, the AESTHEMOS scale has been developed to facilitate the empirical assessment of such emotions. In this article we report a semantic profile analysis of aesthetic emotion terms that had been used for the development of this scale, using the GRID approach. This method consists of obtaining ratings of emotion terms on a set of meaning facets which represent five components of (...) the emotion process. The aims here were to determine the dimensionality of the GRID features when applied to aesthetic emotions and compare it to published results for emotion terms in general, and to examine the internal organization of the domain of aesthetic emotion terms in order to identify salient clusters of these items based on the similarity of their feature profiles on the GRID. Exploratory Principal Component Analyses suggest a four-dimensional structure of the semantic space consisting of valence, power, arousal, and novelty, converging with earlier GRID studies on large sets of standard emotion terms. Using cluster analyses, 15 clusters of aesthetic emotion terms with similar GRID feature profiles were identified, revealing the internal organization of the aesthetic emotion terms domain and meaningful subgroups of aesthetic emotions. While replication for further languages is required, these findings provide a solid basis for further research and methodological development in the realm of aesthetic emotions. (shrink)
How can an abstract sequence of sounds so intensely express emotional states? In the past ten years, research into the topic of music and emotion has flourished. This book explores the relationship between music and emotion, bringing together contributions from psychologists, neuroscientists, musicologists, musicians, and philosophers .
Beginning with the Flood story from ancient Mesopotamia, which is related to similar Biblical and Greek accounts, we focus on the genre of disaster myths, in which man is overcome by divine retribution for his misdeeds. Psychologically speaking, myth has to be considered as part of our human search for meaning. Man looks for the causes of effects; he also expects the effects of causes to be proportionate, which may be the basis of the notion of justice. We review the (...) concept of appraisal as a necessary prelude to emotion: human beings `size up' the situation to see what caused it and whether it was deserved or not before they react. In the case of myth, this psychological mechanism led ancient man to supernatural explanations for natural disasters, namely divine retribution. This is not the case in all cultures; in animistic ones, the cause of misfortune may be sought in hostile outside agency, such as witchcraft. This just goes to show the importance of appraisal biases in emotion, which typically rest on a cultural and religious foundation. The psychological perspective can thus contribute to the understanding of myth at work in human thinking, as part of an interdisciplinary effort involving anthropology and the study of religion. Cet article traite, d'un point de vue psychologique et d'histoire des religions, de la réponse humaine face aux catastrophes. Par son ampleur et sa rareté, la catastrophe, inexplicable et extraordinaire, est un cas intéressant pour l'étude des émotions: l'humain a besoin d'explications, de donner du sens à ce qu'il vit de façon soudaine et souvent dramatique. Dans les mondes anciens, ce type d'événement ne peut qu'avoir une intentionnalité divine et le courroux des dieux est à l'origine du fléau. L'exemple du Déluge mésopotamien permet de suivre les diverses étapes ainsi que les réactions humaines face à une catastrophe naturelle. (shrink)