Domain of Emotion
James R. Averill
University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA, USA
On the border between cognition and emotion lies creativity. On the cognitive side of the border, creativity is often grouped among the highest of the “higher” thought processes; on the emotional side, creativity is the occasion for some of life's most intense affective experiences, from the depths of despair to the heights of ecstasy. But the relation between cognition, creativity and emotion is even closer than this border-hopping analogy might suggest. In ordinary language, cognition refers to the process of gaining knowledge; emotion refers to the way we evaluate and act upon events of personal relevance. As with all terms taken from ordinary language, “cognition” and “emotion” are ultimately based on observable behavior as interpreted within a social context; they do not refer to underlying neurological or psychological mechanisms. A basic assumption of this chapter is that cognitive and emotional behaviors do not differ fundamentally in terms of underlying mechanisms; that is, the same mechanisms (e.g. perception, memory, association, judgment, reasoning) that help mediate cognition also help mediate emotion, albeit perhaps in different combination and degree, depending on the circumstances. One implication of this assumption is that creativity, which also involves these same underlying mechanisms, is as relevant to the emotional as to the cognitive domain.
The focus of this chapter is on emotional creativity; therefore, I will have little to say about cognitive creativity. The chapter is divided into four parts: first, I examine various meanings of “emotion”, for not all aspects of emotion are equally susceptible to innovation and change; second, I illustrate the criteria for assessing creativity in the domain of emotion; third, I review empirical evidence for emotional creativity; and, finally, I distinguish between emotional creativity and three closely related topics, namely, emotional intelligence, the management of emotion, and the effect of emotions on problem-solving.