PSYC18—CHAPTER 7: APPRAISAL, KNOWLEDGEAND EXPERIENCE
• Patient had split bran operation for epilepsy (sever the corpus callosum to separate left and right hemispheres).
Despite these two sides being separated, the patients IQ, personality, language and ability to engage in meaningful
interaction remained intact.
• If information is presenting in left visual field, it is processed in right hemisphere and crosses over. However, in split
brain patient (since the hemispheres cannot communicate), right hemisphere responds more readily to the emotional
content of stimuli, while the left is more ready to interpret experience in terms of language.
Appraisal and Emotion
• Appraisal: when events are evaluated and assigned value.
• Primary appraisal: process is automatic (reflex-like) and unconscious.
• Secondary appraisal: emotions usually directed to particular objects and people and can often be described in
words; potentially conscious and thought-like.
Historical Background and Concepts
• Chrysippus—a stoic—distinguished between initial movements that were automatic (unavoidable) and secondary
movements which involved mental thought (more “up to us”).
• Idea of second movements later translated into the Christian idea of sin and temptation.
• Stress produces vigilant attention and heightened activity in the sympathetic branch of the ANS and prolonged stress
can lead to heart disease, cancer, and even cell death in the hippocampus. Lazarus said that the differences between
stresses lie in the emotions and he proposed that appraisals involve judgements of how good or bad an event is and
that appraisals concern the individual’s goals and aspirations (“concerns”).
• Stein’s view holds that:
1. An event, usually unexpected, is perceived that changes the status of a valued goal.
2. Beliefs are often challenged; this can cause bodily changes and expressions to occur.
3. Plans are formed about what to do about the event.
• These stages lead to questions that correspond to them:
1. What happened?
2. What do I think about it?
3. What can I do about it, and what might happen then?
• How a person sees an event, which depends on the person’s goals and values , will determine how the event is
perceived and what emotions are elicited.
Primary Appraisals, Good and Bad
• The primary appraisal system probably involved the amygdala and gives rise to our core feelings of positivity and
• Core affect: Russell says the heart of any emotion is feeling good or bad, coupled with feelings enervated or excited.
• Participants viewed either happy or angry faces. Asuboptimal (subliminal) condition showed them for 4milliseconds.
Subliminal had no idea whether they saw happy or angry. For suboptimally presented faces, smiling faces led
participants to express greater liking for the Chinese ideographs. No such priming occurred for those who were aware
of the faces. People liked Chinese faces more when they were subliminally presented with a smile—activating
unconscious positive feelings. When the faces were presenting for more than 4milliseconds, participants (since they
are more conscious) did not evaluate Chinese ideographs more positively.
• Conclusion: when we are consciously aware of emotionally charged stimuli, they are less likely to sway our
judgements of other events that have nothing to do with them.
Which is Stronger, the Good or the Bad?
• Our negative evaluations seem to be more potent than our positive ones (faster, stronger physiological reactions).
• Evolutionarily beneficial since negative evaluations signal danger/threats.
• Discrete approaches to appraisals: emphasize that unique appraisals give rise to different emotions. • Dimensional approaches to appraisals: focus on the many components of appraisals that relate to different emotions.
• According to Lazarus, primary involves appraisal of event in terms of its relevance to goals—evaluate whether the
event is relevant to personal goals or not, then appraise ongoing events in terms of the extent to which the event is
congruent or incongruent with the person’s goals. Goal congruent events elicit positive events, and goal incongruent
events produce negative emotions. Then the individual appraises the event in terms of its relevance to more specific
goals, or issues for the ego (see pg 167, figure 7.2).
• Oatley postulates appraisals with two components to discrete emotions:
Primary appraisal—an event occurs in relation to goals, is automatic and unconscious, it occurs not in terms
of good and bad, but in terms of basic emotions (happiness, sadness, anger, fear and disgust), each of which
sets the brain into a mode adapted to deal with a recurring situation (respectively: progress towards a goal,
loss, frustration by another, threat, and toxicity). Each mode has a distinct state of readiness (no verbal
meaning, but a distinct phenomenological tone). For example, if burglar alarm goes off in your house, you
start acting in response, but don’t know what exactly triggered the event.
Secondary appraisal—individual considers causal attribution for the event, how to respond to it, and future
consequences of action. Lazarus calls this the core relational theme of emotion (see. Pg 168, table 7.1).
• Smith and Ellsworth study: Participants remembered an emotional experience and reported their appraisal.
• Ellsworth highlighted two reasons why we need to view appraisals from another perspective
Similarities between emotions—approaches to emotions as discrete, highlight the differences between
emotions in terms of their eliciting appraisals, but certain emotions elicit similar feelings
Inability to account for transitions between emotions
• Ellsworth has 8 dimensions of appraisals associated with emotions: attentions, anticipate effort, certainty, control-
coping, legitimacy, pleasantness, perceived obstacle, responsibility (see pg 169, table 7.2 for detailed descriptions).
• Found that the combination of control and responsibility, called ‘agency’, was the critical dimension that differentiate
three negative emotions: anger, sadness, and guilt
• Weiner and Graham found that some distinct emotions depend on attributions: the explanations of the causes of
events that people give.
Extending Appraisal Research
• Critiques for the retrospective, self-report study of appraisal; Ellsworth and Smith criticized because maybe they were
studying what participants thought were the causes of their emotions rather than their actual causes.
• Roseman and Evdokas studied how appraisals cause emotions. Participants told they would either experience a
pleasant or unpleasant taste; individuals who were appraised for the situation as one in which they would definitely
avoid the unpleasant taste, relief was caused, and when they appraised for that they would probably experience a
pleasant event, hope was caused.
• Appraisals can have different meanings for different people (e.g. different sources of anger).
• Asecond new approach is to identify appraisals as they occur, and ascertain whether emotion-specific appraisals
relate to other measures of emotional response.
• Bonnanno and Keltner found that appraisals of loss correlated to facial expressions and self-reports of sadness, but not
anger. Appraisals of injustice correlated with those of anger but not sadness.\
Cultural Variation inAppraisal
• Rick Schweder compared appraisals of emotions in India toAmerica and found some differences. For instance,
Indians are angered/disgusted by different events (e.g. when a wife eats with her husband’s elder brother or when a
boy cuts his hair after his father’s funeral). Roseman, however found similarities (e.g. that appraisals of
powerlessness prompted sadness and fear rather than anger).
• Important thing is that culture shapes how we appraise emotion-eliciting events. For example in middle-class
Europeans, being alone is pleasant, but the Inuit see being alone as isolation—which triggers sadness.
• Being dependent on