- Emotion becomes very cognitive after the 60s; Behaviourism = trust what you DO, being
governed by stimulus. They are concerned with the public display. Cognitive = planning,
active role by people
George Mandler’s Information Theory Approach
- This approach emphasized the active role played by people in interpreting and
understanding the world around them.
- His information processing approach to emotion places an emphasis on the role of
“meaning analysis and cognitive evaluation” that deals “both with events in the external
world and with the organism’s own actions and behaviors”.
- Mandler proposed similar theory as Schachter did but Schachter is motivational
- Mandler = more cognitive –> interpretation (which is good or bad for me; appraisal).
- Cognitive = active role by people! We are constructing our own worlds and are making our
own decisions. We’re not being governed by the stimulus, we are appraising it in an active
way and making decisions for what we should do
- Information theory tradition becomes salient in 1960s – about choice behaviour people
make. (e.g. netflix – what movies do you like)
- Like Schachter, Mandler focuses on undifferentiated arousal
- Human beings have difficulty in discriminating slight changes in physiological patterns. It
is determined by the meaning analysis that caused it given the individual’s values and
environmental events. This arousal which decays slowly will potentiate subsequent feeling
o Something’s going on in my body, my job is to evaluate what it means but sometimes
its hard to know or even describe what’s going on in our bodies
o The linear sequential information theory model tells us that whatever happens in our
body will motivate us to search for relative info in the environment
- “Discrepancy and interruption” of ongoing plans and actions signals important changes
in the environment and is the most important cause of the arousal.
o We are engaging in behaviours to realize our goals. You have something that’s
ongoing and you are trying to realize a change – discrepancy
- This arousal prepares the organism physiologically to respond to the evoking events. It also
signals consciousness for “troubleshooting” and “attention, alertness, and scanning of
the environment” which entails interpretation, and analysis both of the stimulus and of
one’s capacity to respond effectively to it.
o Troubleshooting – going along smoothly, something interrupts, you realize it because
it gives you a sense of arousal and you click into troubleshooting mode. You become
more alert and attentive and scan the environment. BUT sometimes there are diff
arousals – 1 type: I’m doomed. 2 type: I have to do something about it and fix it.
- Emotion is bound up with the “troubleshooting” function of the mind because it stimulates
the individual to reorient attention, plans, and activities in a conscious manner to the
o Interruptions to the troubleshooting function lead to fear, anger, surprise, etc.
Magda Arnold (1960)
- Assess the object in terms of how it affects us personally in relation to harm or benefit…
desirable or undesirable, valuable or harmful, so we are drawn toward or repelled by it.
- Sequence: PERCEPTION – APPRAISAL – EMOTION - Past experiences and goals are an important part of appraisal. Appraisals are sense
judgements which are direct, immediate, non-reflective, non-intellectual, and automatic.
o Adaptation has a sense judgement – from the earliest cues you can make a decision
o Decisions become automatic when they’re highly planned adaptive response. There is
also a feeling part (it feels right). Minimal cues are sufficient to guide response
o Emotions have survival purpose and are impulses to action to respond to environment
in a particular way (e.g. anger and urge to strike; fear and urge to flee)
- Drive reduction model – Appraisal sets things in motion
o Situation appraisal sets in motion physiological responses experienced as unpleasant
tension. When action is complete, physiological response abates and tension is reduced.
o So, emotion is the “felt tendency towards anything appraised as good or beneficial or
away from anything appraised as bad or harmful” appraisal -> significance evaluation -> action readiness -> action
- Appraisal: compare coped event with concerns
- Evaluation: diagnosis for what can