The Cognitive Structure of Emotions

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Cambridge University Press, Jul 29, 1988 - Psychology - 207 pages
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What causes us to experience emotions? What makes emotions vary in intensity? How are different emotions related to one another and to the language used to talk about them? What are the information processing mechanisms and structures that underlie the elicitation and intensification of emotions? Despite an abundance of psychological research on emotions, many fundamental questions like these have yet to be answered. The Cognitive Structure of Emotions addresses such questions by presenting a systematic and detailed account of the cognitive antecedents of emotions. The authors propose three aspects of the world to which people can react emotionally. People can react to events of concern to them, to the actions of those they consider responsible for such events, and to objects. It is argued that these three classes of reactions lead to three classes of emotions, each based on evaluations in terms of different kinds of knowledge representations. The authors characterize a wide range of emotions, offering concrete proposals about the factors that influence the intensity of each. In doing so, they forge a clear separation between emotions themselves and the language of emotion, and offer the first systematic, comprehensive, and computationally tractable account of the cognitions that underlie distinct types of human emotions.

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About the author (1988)

Ortony is Professor of Psychology at the Institute for Learning Sciences, Northwestern University.

Clore is Professor of Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Collins is Principal Scientist at BBN Systems and Technologies Corporation.

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