Approaches to Emotion

By Klaus R. Scherer; Paul Ekman | Go to book overview

feelings, provide the important information about the state of the person-environment relationship. Motivation emphasizes that people have goals, plans, projects, and commitments that organize the person-environment relationship. Apparent inconsistencies in the person's behavior can be explained potentially with reference to their relevance to these motivational considerations. Furthermore, motivational variables set the terms for the way a person construes transactions by identifying the stakes and payoffs that influence cognitive processes, action impulses, and the emotional response.

Thoughts, emotions, and motives are inferred from observations of the person, and we have noted how they often have the same referents. How we partition these concepts and punctuate theoretical sequences is often a matter of theoretical and methodological convenience. Yet we cannot lose sight of the fact that cognition, motivation, and emotion are inferential processes, not entities, each with a separate and independent existence. For purposes of conceptual analysis, it is appropriate to distinguish among them. However, we must realize that in nature, that is, in the actual phenomena of human experience and action, they are usually fused and difficult to separate. To speak of such fusion is not a matter of conceptual sloppiness but a recognition of the necessity of putting the pieces back together into an organized whole.

In his classic work, Ryle ( 1949) warned of the insolubility of certain theoretical questions about the relations among presumed inner entities. If cognition and emotion, for example, are separate entities in relation to each other, one has to establish some tie between them. But one cannot conceptualize this tie as either cognitive or emotional without disturbing their status as separate entities. The solution, of course, is that people think and respond emotionally, rather than endure passively the interaction of thoughts and emotion.

It is this point, i.e., that activity and involvement with the environment characterize people rather than detached fragments of them, that might allow the cognitive perspective to reintegrate the person, as McKeachie ( 1976) proposed in his A.P.A. Presidential Address. To focus on cognitions, motives, and emotion. as separable entities, linked in strict, one-way causal sequences, is to continue the conceptual confusion of the past, and to seriously distort their operation in the natural course of living. The pieces of poor Humpty-Dumpty cannot be allowed to lie separately and lifelessly on the ground, and however awesome the synthetic task, must surely be put back together again.


ACKNOWLEDGMENT

This is a shortened version of a chapter with the same title in R. W. J. Neufeld (Ed.), Psychological stress and psychopathology. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1982, pp. 218- 239, by permission of the publisher.

-234-

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Approaches to Emotion
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface xi
  • Questions About Emotion: An Introduction 1
  • References 7
  • 1: BIOLOGICAL APPROACH 9
  • 1: Emotion: A Neurobehavioral Analysis 13
  • References 34
  • 2: Hemispheric Asymmetry and Emotion 39
  • ACKNOWLEDGMENT 54
  • 3: Contributions from Neuroendocrinology 59
  • References 70
  • II DEVELOPMENTAL APPROACHES 73
  • 5: The Organization of Emotional Development 109
  • ACKNOWLEDGMENT 127
  • References 127
  • 6: Emotions in Infancy: Regulators of Contact and Relationships with Persons 129
  • Acknowledgments 154
  • III PSYCHOLOGICAL AND ETHOLOGICAL APPROACHES 159
  • 7: Affect Theory 163
  • ACKNOWLEDGMENT 194
  • References 194
  • 8: Emotions: A General Psychoevolutionary Theory 197
  • References 218
  • 9: Cognition, Emotion and Motivation: The Doctoring of Humpty-Dumpty 221
  • ACKNOWLEDGMENT 234
  • 10: The Interaction of Affect and Cognition 239
  • 11: Thoughts on the Relations Between Emotion and Cognition 247
  • ACKNOWLEDGMENT 255
  • References 255
  • 12: On Primacy of Affect 259
  • ACKNOWLEDGMENT 268
  • 13: A Perceptual Motor Theory of Emotion of Emotion 271
  • References 289
  • 4: On the Nature and Function of Emotion: A Component Process Approach 293
  • ACKNOWLEDGMENT 315
  • References 316
  • 15: Expression and the Nature of Emotion 319
  • ACKNOWLEDGMENT 340
  • 16: Animal Communication: Affect or Cognition? 345
  • Acknowledgments 363
  • References 363
  • IV SOCIOLOGICAL AND ANTHROPOLIGICAL APPROACHES 367
  • 17: Power, Status, and Emotions: A Sociological Contribution to A Psychophysiological Domain 369
  • References 381
  • 18: The Role of Emotion in Social Structure 385
  • ACKNOWLEDGEMENT 396
  • References 396
  • 19: The Emotions in Comparative Perspective 397
  • References 411
  • Author Index 413
  • Subject Index 423
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