Appraisal theories of emotion consider that it is how a person understands a situation, rather than the situation itself, that affect their emotions (Siemer et al., 2007). This theory allows for individuals to have unique reactions to the same situation since they may interpret that situation differently, based on a variety of potential variables (Siemer et al., 2007). These variables can include “the importance of the event, its expectedness, the responsible agent, and the degree to which it is possible to control the event” (Siemer et al., 2007, p. 592). Appraisal theory has two versions that can be considered: the first suggesting that differences in appraisal of a situation is enough to arouse different emotions and the second suggests that these differences in appraisal are necessary to evoke different emotional reactions (Siemer et al., 2007).
Overall, I feel that the theory is logical, and I concur with the interdependency of cognition and emotion. Theories regarding the decision-making process have shown that although it would be nice to consider that humans make rational decisions by considering all possible outcomes and choosing the best one, this is simply not the case (de Campo et al., 2016). In fact, we know that humans use mental shortcuts, like heuristics, to drive many of our decisions and these heuristics are plentiful with variables similar to those that affect our appraisal of a situation (del Campo et al., 2016). Therefore, it is a sound perspective to consider that cognitive processes interdepend with affect.
The SPAARS approach refers to the Schematic, Propositional, Analogical and Associative Representation System (Power & Dalgleish, 2008). This model is multi-level and considers emotions from four different levels (schematic, associative, propositional, and analogical) (Power & Dalgleish, 2008). This model serves to understand the connection between stimuli and emotions and acknowledges the different levels through which emotional output happens in response to stimuli (Power & Dalgleish, 2008). Power & Dalgleish (2008) outline the mechanisms of emotion generation as “an event, an interpretation, an appraisal, physiological change, an action potential, and a conscious awareness” (p.153). The SPAARS model acknowledges the need for appraisal of a situation in order to generate an emotion, however, notes that this appraisal does not have to occur at the time of the event itself (Power & Dalgleish, 2008). This suggests that the process of generating emotion to an event can happen through association created by past experiences of similar or same events or, in a small number of instances, created through evolutionary history (Power & Dalgleish, 2008). SPAARS relates strongly with the appraisal theory of emotion, acknowledging the generation of emotion through different levels and types of appraisals and interpretation (Power & Dalgleish, 2008).
Del Campo, C., Pauser, S., Steiner, E., & Vetschera, R. (2016). Decision making styles and the use of heuristics in decision making. Journal of Business Economics, 86(4), 389-412.
Power, M., & Dalgleish, T. (2008). Towards an integrated cognitive theory of emotion: The SPAARS approach. In, Cognition and emotion: From order to disorder (2nd ed., pp. 129–167). London, England: Psychology Press.
Siemer, M., Mauss, I., & Gross, J. J. (2007). Same situation—Different emotions: How appraisals shape our emotions. Emotion, 7(3), 592–600.
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