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The Cognitive Structure of Emotions

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Overview

What causes us to experience emotions? What makes emotions vary in intensity? How are different emotions related to one another and to the language used to talk about them? What are the information processing mechanisms and structures that underlie the elicitation and intensification of emotions? Despite an abundance of psychological research on emotions, many fundamental questions like these have yet to be answered. The Cognitive Structure of Emotions addresses such questions by presenting a systematic and detailed account of the cognitive antecedents of emotions. The authors propose three aspects of the world to which people can react emotionally. People can react to events of concern to them, to the actions of those they consider responsible for such events, and to objects. It is argued that these three classes of reactions lead to three classes of emotions, each based on evaluations in terms of different kinds of knowledge representations. The authors characterize a wide range of emotions, offering concrete proposals about the factors that influence the intensity of each. In doing so, they forge a clear separation between emotions themselves and the language of emotion, and offer the first systematic, comprehensive, and computationally tractable account of the cognitions that underlie distinct types of human emotions. It has long been clear that the way in which people interpret the world affects our emotional reactions. What has been less clear is exactly how such different interpretations (i.e. cognitions) lead to different emotions. This is the central question addressed by The Cognitive Structure of Emotions. Taking a cognitive science perspective, a systematic account is presented of the cognitive structures that underlie a wide range of different emotions. It has long been clear that the way in which people interpret the world affects our emotional reactions. What has been less clear is exactly how such different interpret

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The primary value of this book is in the linking of emotions, in an intuitively sensible classification, to conditions and value structures in a way never before mapped out so explicitly and so well." Contemporary Sociology

"This is a tightly reasoned, succinctly written, and intellectually demanding work." Cognition and Emotion

Booknews
Many emotion theorists have argued that cognitive appraisal is central to emotion. Authors here present outlines of an account of how such appraisals are made. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR booknews.com
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521386647
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/1990
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.51 (d)

Table of Contents

1. Introduction; The study of emotion; Types of evidence for theories of emotion; Some goals for a cognitive theory of emotion; 2. Structure of the theory; The organisation of emotion types; Basic emotions; Some implications of the emotions-as-valenced-reactions claim; 3. The cognitive psychology of appraisal; The appraisal structure; Central intensity variables; 4. The intensity of emotions; Global variables; Local variables; Variable-values, variable-weights, and emotion thresholds; 5. Reactions to events: I. The well-being emotions; Loss emotions and fine-grained analyses; The fortunes-of-others emotions; Self-pity and related states; 6. Reactions to events: II. The prospect-based emotions; Shock and pleasant surprise; Some interrelationships between prospect-based emotions; Suspense, resignation, hopelessness, and other related states; 7. Reactions to agents; The attribution emotions; Gratitude, anger, and some other compound emotions; 8. Reactions to objects; The attraction emotions; Fine-grained analyses and emotion sequences; 9. The boundaries of the theory; Emotion words and cross-cultural issues; Emotion experiences and unconscious emotions; Coping and the function of emotions; Computational tractability.

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