Handbook of Cognition and Emotion

By Tim Dalgleish; Mick J. Power | Go to book overview

Chapter 19
The Early Emergence of
Emouional Understanding and
Appraisal: Implications for
Theories of Development

Nancy L. Stein
University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA and
Linda J. Levine
University of California, Irvine, CA, USA


INTRODUCTION

This chapter presents an essay on the nature and emergence of emouional understanding. By focusing on understanding, we describe now children and adults make sense of those events that evoke emotion, the types of appraisals that lead to the experience of emotion, the role that preferences and goals play in evoking emotion, and the ways in which emotion influences subsequent thinking and behavior. In essence, we describe the unfolding of emotion in terms of the causal sequence of mental processes that occur when emotion is experienced. Because we focus on development, we address the issue of now children may or may not differ from adults in their experience of emotion. We speak to the complex relationship between cognition and emotion, the need to describe the contents of the inferences made during emotional experience, and understanding of the “basic” emotions (e.g. happiness, anger, sadness and fear).

Children and adults use both conscious and unconscious processes to understand, evaluate and respond to events that evoke emotion. From the very beginning, emotional understanding is goal- and preference-based. Even the youngest

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