Summary Of The Spaars Model

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The Schematic Propositional Analogical Associative Representation Systems (SPAARS) model of emotion that has been presented throughout this book is summarised in Figure 11.1. The model is multi-level and includes four different types of representation. The initial processing of stimuli occurs through a number of mode-specific or sensory-specific systems such as the visual, the auditory, the tactile, the propriocep-tive, and the olfactory that we have grouped together as the analogical representation system; the importance of such systems in emotions and emotional disorders is clearly evident in for example post-traumatic stress disorder (see Chapter 6) in which certain sights, sounds, or smells may become inherent parts of the traumatic event. The output from analogical processing may then feed into three semantic representation systems operating in parallel. At the lower level there is an associative system that, in terms of current possible cognitive architectures, may take the form of a number of potentially modularised connectionist networks (see Chapter 5).



Figure 11.1 Two routes to emotion within the SPAARS multi-level representation system. Route 1 includes the appraisal of a goal-relevant event; Route 2 is a direct access route of which the person may not be aware (see text).



Figure 11.1 Two routes to emotion within the SPAARS multi-level representation system. Route 1 includes the appraisal of a goal-relevant event; Route 2 is a direct access route of which the person may not be aware (see text).

The intermediate level of semantic representation within SPAARS is the propositional one. This is the most language-like level of representation, although, as explained in Chapter 5, propositions are not language-specific: most propositional representations are expressed in the form of one or more arguments linked by a predicate as in the example IS(SPAARS, USEFUL), which we leave to the reader to interpret! Although such propositional representations have played a key role in the generation of emotion in a number of theories, such as the role of propositional level automatic thoughts in Beck's (e.g., 1976) cognitive therapy (see Chapter 4), we propose that there is no direct route from propositions to emotion, but that they feed either through appraisals at the schematic model level (see below) or through the associative route. For example, particular words or phrases may become directly linked to emotion for certain individuals; thus, swearwords come in a whole range of culture-specific forms. These words and phrases are normally designed to be expressive of emotion and to elicit an emotional reaction in the recipient, which, we suggest, is typically through the direct access route. Indeed, the fact that such words seem to be retained longest even in the lexical access problems seen with extreme alcoholic Korsakoff's conditions suggests that they may be stored separately from non-emotion-laden words and phrases. In addition, of course, each individual will collect a set of unique words and phrases that may also directly access emotion through the associative route: significant names and significant places provide two such examples, as illustrated in the classic "cocktail party phenomenon" (Cherry, 1953).

The highest level of semantic representation, as illustrated in Figure 11.1, we have labelled the schematic model level. The term is taken from Teasdale and Barnard (1993); it is designed to capture the advantages of a mental models level of representation (Johnson-Laird, 1983), a level that is designed to integrate intensional and extensional information in a flexible and dynamic fashion, in combination with the advantages of the more traditional schema approach, which provides a good account of repetitive and invariant relationships between concepts, but which is weakest therefore where more flexible representations are needed (Kahneman & Miller, 1986). In relation to emotion, the schematic model level is extremely important because it is at this level that the generation of emotion occurs through the process of effortful appraisal (shown as Route 1 in Figure 11.1). The key processes through this route therefore include the interpretation and appraisal of any relevant input, whether of external or internal origin, according to the basic appraisal processes considered in the previous chapters. Table 11.1 presents a summary of these core appraisals for each of the five basic emotions.

The core appraisal for fear involves the interpretation of threat to the individual, for example, to the individual's physical safety, or to the individual's goals or plans (in addition to the goal of physical safety), or of threat to something or someone valued by the individual. Sadness involves an appraisal of loss or failure, again of something or someone valued by the individual. Anger consists of the frustration or attempted blocking of a goal or plan where there is a perceived agent that has caused the frustration or blocking. The agent, however, while typically taking a human form need not necessarily do so, be it the lamppost that shouldn't have been there, the glass of milk that shouldn't have spilled, or fate that shouldn't have been against you. Happiness (in the sense of "joy") on the other hand is the achievement of a goal or plan or of movement towards a goal or plan. Finally, disgust is the rejection of something, whether concrete or abstract, that is repulsive to the individual's goals because it is seen to lead to physical or psychological contamination; our definition therefore goes beyond the traditional association of disgust with food or faeces to include a range of psychological and interpersonal states that may also become repulsive to the individual.

The appraisals outlined in Table 11.1 provide the starting points from which a wide range of more complex emotions are derived, or from which a sequence of emotions may emerge. The idea that complex emotions can be derived from a set of basic emotions has been considered by a number of previous theorists, whether in the form of blends of two or more emotions (e.g., Plutchik, 1980) or in the form of linguistic analyses of complex emotion terms (e.g., Johnson-Laird & Oatley, 1989). Examples of complex emotions and their underlying basic emotions are shown in Table 11.2. Each of the complex emotions listed would typically be derived from the

Table 11.1 The key appraisal for each of the five basic emotions

Basic emotion Appraisal

SADNESS Loss or failure (actual or possible) of valued role or goal

HAPPINESS Successful move towards or completion of a valued role or goal ANGER Blocking or frustration of a role or goal through perceived agent

FEAR Physical or social threat to self or valued role or goal

DISGUST A person, object, or idea repulsive to the self, and to valued roles and goals

Table 11.2 Example of complex emotions derived from each basic emotion

Basic emotion

Examples of complex emotions


Embarrassment (1)















Embarrassment (2)

basic emotion with the addition of cognitive complexity including subsequent cycles of appraisal, the involvement of the self, an additional basic emotion, or an interpersonal context. For example, worry normally takes the form of ruminative anxiety about an unwanted outcome that might happen in the future and that might be realistic or unrealistic. Envy typically takes the form of anger towards someone who has something of which the individual feels more deserving. Shame is a feeling of disgust directed towards the self or towards something or someone with which the self identifies, and which occurs because of a perceived failing of the self or of the identified-with other. In each of these examples therefore complexity is added to the basic emotion through additional cognitive information.

In sequences of different emotions the occurrence of a particular emotion, for example, may itself come to be appraised as the starting point for another emotion; thus, in the discussion of bereavement in Chapter 7 we noted that some individuals feel guilty whenever they begin to feel angry with the lost person, a repeated sequence that may become automated and thereby block the normal grieving process. Alternatively, sequences of events may unfold that lead to a series of emotions; the tragic case of the man who thought he had won the National Lottery (see Chapter 10) but subsequently realised that his ticket had run out the week before, then killed himself the following day, reflected the loss of a brief period of ecstatic joy for a life that he might have had rather than the loss of anything that he actually did have. Fortunately, most events do not unfold in such a dramatic fashion, but reflect a sequence of new appraisals as more information becomes available to the individual.

One of the main arguments of this book has been not only that complex emotions can be derived from the underlying set of five basic emotions but also that the emotional disorders can be derived from this same set. As illustrated in Table 11.3, in order to make these derivations some alterations are needed to the normal classifications of emotional disorders. The disorders associated with fear include some phobias, some obsessional compulsive disorders, generalised anxiety disorder, panic, and some

11. OVERVIEW AND CONCLUSIONS Table 11.3 Emotional disorders linked to basic emotions

Basic emotion Coupled emotion Emotional "disorder"





Anger Anger Disgust

HAPPINESS Anxiety/Anger


Fear Fear


Phobias (1)

Pathological grief

Traumatic grief (?PTSD (3))


Pathological anger

Morbid jealousy

Destructive envy

Polyannaism / pathological optimism



Love sickness

De Clerambault's syndrome Phobias (2) OCD (2) Suicide

Eating disorders etc. PTSD (5)

Some apparently unitary disorders have divided up, whereas other disorders have been derived from the coupling of two basic emotions.

types of post-traumatic stress disorder (e.g., Dalgleish & Power, 2004b). However, as we argued in Chapter 6 and Chapter 9, there are certain types of phobias and obsessional disorders that do not seem to be predominantly fear-based, but instead appear to be disgust-based. Phobias of certain insects, reptiles, and animals appear to be based on associations with dirt and contamination rather than fear: if fear were the only component, why are there so few lion-phobic and car-phobic people in the world? Of course, not all insect and animal phobias are therefore disgust-based, because traumatic experiences genuinely do occur, for example with dogs and bees, thereby leading to the generation of fear-based or coupled fear-disgust-based phobias.

In the case of obsessional disorders there seems to be a prima facie case for a set of disgust-based disorders; thus, many OCD cases present with concerns about disease, dirt, or contamination which the individual may prevent or obviate through rituals such as washing or through careful avoidance (see Chapter 9). Other disgust-based reactions may occur in relation to thoughts or impulses that are considered to be dirty in a moral sense and that may reflect unwanted or disowned aspects of the self; for example, impulses to harm or threaten others, and sexual thoughts or impulses. The possible consequences of this process of trying to rid the self of physical or psychological "dirtiness" have been well expressed by Daniel Wegner in his book White Bears and Other Unwanted Thoughts:

Attempts to concentrate, to be happy, to relax, to be good or fair, or even just to hold still, create ironic mental processes that make us do just the opposite of these things - particularly when we are under stress or have a lot on our minds. (1989, p. ix)

We have also highlighted the possibility in Table 11.3 that disgust-based reactions in some post-traumatic stress disorders may play an important role, and we have recently extended this argument to other basic emotions (Dalgleish & Power, 2004b). Such disgust reactions can occur towards the self because of the nature of the trauma such as in rape, or the individual may feel shame or guilt because of a perceived role in the cause of the trauma: "If only I hadn't deviated from my usual route . . .", "I should have died, not them", "I should have foreseen what was going to happen", and so on. Dalgleish (2004) has summarised how such internal attributions for the causes of traumatic events are more likely to lead to a chronic course for the disorder.

A second important feature of the emotional disorders listed in Table 11.3 is the proposal that some of the disorders may be derived from the coupling of two or more basic emotions, or may involve the "interlocking" of different semantic levels within an emotion module (cf. Teasdale, 1999). As argued in Chapter 6, some forms of depression seem to occur from the coupling of sadness and disgust, in which the individual feels both sad because of some actual or imagined loss, but in addition turns disgust against the self because of perceived inadequacy or culpability. Although previous theorists have derived depression from other combinations, for example, Freud derived melancholia from sadness and anger, and more recent theorists have proposed that the comorbidity of depression and anxiety has theoretical implications (Watson & Clark, 1992), we believe that disgust has been swept under the carpet for too long and that its crucial role, especially in the form of self-disgust, has gone largely unrecognised in relation to both the emotional disorders and a number of other drive-related disorders (see Chapter 9).

Another emotional state that can lead to disorder is that of grief, because of the possible coupling of sadness with anger that is typical of this state (see Chapter 7). Most of the studies show that the loss of something or someone extremely important to the individual involves not only the reaction of sadness, but also anger because of feeling abandoned or whatever (e.g., Bowlby, 1980). The failure to process the anger or the sadness appropriately can lead to atypical grief reactions in which the individual presents in an emotionally disordered way.

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