Appraisal and Beyond: The Issue of Cognitive Determinants of Emotion
Nico H. Frijda
Taylor & Francis, 1993 - 167
Appraisal is a central notion in current theory. A process of appraisal can be considered the key to understanding that emotions differ for different individuals. Assuming a process of appraisal that mediates between events and emotions is the clue to understanding that a particular event evokes an emotion in one individual and not in another, or evokes an emotion at one moment, and no emotion, or a weaker or stronger one, at another moment. A process of appraisal also explains why an emotionally charged event elicits this particular emotion, and not another one, in this particular individual under these particular conditions.
The process of appraisal accounts for the fact that the arousal of an emotion depends upon the meaning of the event for the individual and explains why the emotion that is evoked often depends upon quite subtle aspects of that meaning. Arousal of emotions is determined by the interaction between events, the individual's conceptions or expectations as to what constitutes well-being for him or her and the individual's expectations that he or she will be able to deal or cope with the event and, if so, in what manner or how effectively.
To deal with these issues the notion of appraisal was developed in the early 1960s. In the early 1980s, a torrent of theoretical and empirical work broke loose in which the cognitive variables involved were spelled out in great detail. A large number of theoretical and empirical studies from quite diverse laboratories generated a highly cumulative body of research. However, it also generated disagreements, important questions (such as those regarding the importance of the place of cognition in emotion), and methodological objections. Also, few accounts were produced of the processes by which appraisal is supposed to operate. This Special Issue is one endeavour to take stock of the findings and problems concerning appraisal. It is called "Appraisal and Beyond," because it invited, and received, from leading contributors to the field, state'of'the'art reports of appraisal research, critical comments and suggestions that should carry the theory further.
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