Appraisal Theories

The term "appraisal" was first used in relation to emotion by Arnold (e.g., 1960). Whereas some of the earlier emotion theories had equated emotion with physiological or somatic responses (e.g., James, 1890; see Chapter 2), the initial appraisal theories required an additional step, that of cognitive interpretation of a physiological state, for emotion to occur. Perhaps the most famous of these early appraisal theories (we use "appraisal" very broadly here when other theorists might refer to these as "attribution theories", but we consider attribution to be part of a more general evaluative or appraisal approach) was that of Schachter and Singer (1962) who not only presented an influential theory, but also carried out one of the classic top-ten psychological experiments to date. This experiment had a considerable influence on a number of areas in psychology including emotion theory and the development of attributional approaches. For these reasons, therefore, we will start with an account of the arousal-based appraisal theories inspired by and including Schachter and Singer's work and then proceed to more recent appraisal theories.

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