Appraisal Theory

Appraisal theory is the idea that emotions are extracted from our evaluations (appraisals) of events that cause specific reactions in different people. Essentially, our appraisal of a situation causes an emotional, or affective, response that is going to be based on that appraisal. An example of this is going on a first date. If the date is perceived as positive, one might feel happiness, joy, giddiness, excitement, and/or anticipation, because they have appraised this event as one that could have positive long term effects, i.e. starting a new relationship, engagement, or even marriage. On the other hand, if the date is perceived negatively, then our emotions, as a result, might include dejection, sadness, emptiness, or fear. (Scherer et al., 2001) Reasoning and understanding of one’s emotional reaction becomes important for future appraisals as well. The important aspect of the appraisal theory is that it accounts for individual variances of emotional reactions to the same event.

Appraisal theories of emotion are theories that state that emotions result from people’s interpretations and explanations of their circumstances even in the absence of physiological arousal (Aronson, 2005). There are two basic approaches; the structural approach and process model. These models both provide an explanation for the appraisal of emotions and explain in different ways how emotions can develop. In the absence of physiological arousal we decide how to feel about a situation after we have interpreted and explained the phenomena. Thus the sequence of events is as follows: event, thinking, and simultaneous events of arousal and emotion. Social Psychologists have used this theory to explain and predict coping mechanisms and people’s patterns of emotionality. By contrast, for example, personality psychology studies emotions as a function of a person's personality, and thus does not take into account the person's appraisal, or cognitive response, to a situation.

The main controversy surrounding these theories argues that emotions cannot happen without physiological arousal.

Read more about Appraisal TheoryHistory of Appraisal Theory, Empirical Findings and Real World Applications, More Appraisal Theories of Emotion

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Appraisal Theory - More Appraisal Theories of Emotion
... Many current theories of emotion now place the appraisal component of emotion at the forefront in defining and studying emotional experience ... who study emotion accept a working definition acknowledging that emotion is not just appraisal but a complex multifaceted experience with the following components 1 ... The appraisal is accompanied by feelings that are good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant, calm or aroused ...

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