Conative and Affective Process Analysis

By Richard E. Snow; Marshall J. Farr | Go to book overview

8
Thinking about Feelings: The Development and Organization of Emotional Knowledge

Nancy L. Stein Linda J. Levine University of Chicago

This paper presents a framework for describing the development and organization of emotional knowledge. Our primary aim is the construction of a theory that explains how people represent, understand, and use knowledge about emotion. This theory includes a description of the knowledge acquired about the conditions that elicit emotional responses, the way in which emotion organizes and regulates cognitive planning and overt action, and the decision making and problem solving processes that occur during and subsequent to emotion experiences.

Three issues play a central role. First, we are interested in understanding the structure and organization of the knowledge related to emotion. Emotion is an integral part of personal and social experience, and serves both as an organizer and as a regulator of cognition and action. In this regard, a description of the characteristics of knowledge about emotion becomes a primary task, with an emphasis on delineating the relationship between emotion, cognition, and behavior.

Our second concern is developmental in nature. We are interested in explaining the age related changes that occur in: (1) the events that trigger emotional responses, (2) the language used to label and differentiate emotional experiences, (3) the reasons given for the occurrence of an emotional response, (4) the plans and actions formulated in response to an emotion, and (5) the perceived consequences of the actions that follow an emotional response.

Our third concern is with the relationship between talking about emotion and the actual experience of emotion. In most of our studies, knowledge about emotion is elicited through the verbal responses of children and adults to simple narratives. Thus, our conclusions about the organization and structure of emo-

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