What distinguishes one emotion from another

This is probably the question to which the answer provided by the cognitive theory, in our view at least, is most clearly superior to the answers generated by the other approaches we have discussed. The cognitive approach proposes that the distinctions between emotions are a function of the appraisals that are associated with them. So, anger is associated with an appraisal of some form of insult, fear with an appraisal of threat, sadness with an appraisal of loss, and so on.

If we accept this theoretical position, then we are immediately faced with the questions of which appraisal goes with which emotion and, equally important, how we might determine this. These questions are ones that have received considerable attention from psychologists, and we shall discuss them and some of the proposed answers to them in Chapter 3.

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