Psychological and Biological Approaches to Emotion

By Nancy L. Stein; Bennett Leventhal et al. | Go to book overview

1
Constructs of the Mind in Adaptation

Richard S. Lazarus

University of California, Berkeley

Some years ago, when I was thinking about cognitive appraisal as a central process in emotion, I realized that the cognitive revolution in psychology did not create new constructs with which to understand the human mind but only changed the definition and arrangement of old constructs. The basic theoretical entities of psychology have always consisted of motivation, emotion, and cognition, each of which describes different functions of mind. In an interesting discussion of the origins of faculty psychology, Hilgard ( 1980) has referred to these as the "trilogy of the mind." To these constructs we must add two other sets of variables, namely, actions and the environmental stimulus array, making a total of five concepts to juggle in our theories of emotion and behavior.

This presentation is an attempt to discuss the relationships among these constructs within a cognitive and relational approach to emotion and human functioning, and to elaborate somewhat on what I have said previously about the cognition--emotion relationship ( Lazarus, 1966, 1980, 1982, 1984; Lazarus & Folkman, 1984; Lazarus, Kanner, & Folkman, 1980; Lazarus & Launier, 1978.

In the 1940s and 1950s Freudians and reinforcement learning theorists emphasized drives and placed them early in the stimulus--organism--response (S--O--R) sequence. These theories also gave relatively little attention to cognitive mediation. Drives that were in conflict or blocked from discharge produced tension or anxiety that was reduced by adaptive or ego-defensive behavior learned through the principle of reinforcement. Ego psychologists came along later to once again give prominence to cognition.

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