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Abstract: Emotional appraisal happens at more than one level. Low-level appraisals involve representations that are semantically coarse-grained, fuse the functional roles of belief and desire and have impoverished inferential roles, making it best to think of them as sub-conceptual. Multi-level theories of emotional appraisal are thus best conceived, not as theories of the actual conceptual content of emotional appraisals, but as ecological theories that identify the aspects of the environment that appraisal processes are tracking using diverse cognitive means. These aspects of the environment are what the environment ‘affords’ the organism. Some of these affordances are ‘goal-affordances’ - possibilities for future action. This perspective on emotional appraisal lends support to the idea that emotional appraisal is in part ‘Machiavellian’ or ‘strategic’. Organisms take into account the payoffs resulting from an emotional response when determining whether the eliciting situation ‘warrants’ that emotion
Abstract: The aim of appraisal theory in the psychology of emotion is to identify the features of the emotion-eliciting situation that lead to the production of one emotion rather than another2. A model of emotional appraisal takes the form of a set of dimensions against which potentially emotion-eliciting situations are assessed. The dimensions of the emotion hyperspace might include, for example, whether the eliciting situation fulfills or frustrates the subject’s goals or whether an actor in the eliciting situation has violated a norm. Richard Lazarus’s well-known model of emotional appraisal has six dimensions, and the regions of the resulting hyperspace that correspond to particular emotions are summarized by Lazarus as the ‘core relational themes’ of those emotions. Anger, for examples, is elicited by the core relational theme ‘a demeaning offence against me and mine’, sadness by ‘having experienced an irrevocable loss’ and guilt by ‘having transgressed a moral imperative’ (Lazarus, 1991)
Abstract: In one of the most frequently quoted passages in the history of emotion research, William James (1884: 189f) announces that emotions occur when the perception of an exciting fact causes a collection of bodily changes, and “our feeling of the same changes as they occur IS the emotion.” The same idea occurred to Carl Lange (1984) around the same time. These authors were not the first to draw a link between the emotions and the body. Indeed, this had been a central theme of Descartes’ exquisite opus, The Passions of the Soul. But James and Lange wanted to push things farther than most, suggesting that emotions are exhausted by bodily changes or perceptions thereof. Other kinds of mental episodes might co-occur when we have an emotion state. For James, an emotion follows an exciting perception. But the exciting perception is not a part of the emotion it excited (Ellsworth, 1994, reads James differently, but see Reisenzein et al.’s 1995 convincing response). The majority of contemporary emotion researchers, especially those in philosophy, find this suggestion completely untenable. Surely, emotions involve something more. At their core, emotions are more like judgments or thoughts, than perceptions. They evaluate, assess, or appraise. Emotions are amendable to rational assessment; they report, correctly or incorrectly, on how we are faring in the world. Within this general consensus, there is a further debate about whether the body should figure into a theory of emotions at all. Perhaps James and Lange offer a theory that is not merely incomplete, but entirely off base. Where they view judgments as contingent and non-constitutive concomitants of emotions, it is actually bodily perceptions that deserve this demotion. Perhaps emotions can be, and often are, disembodied in some fundamental sense