PSYC18 Chapter 7 – Appraisal, Knowledge and Experience
- Split brain operation: separate left side of cortex from the right
- Gazzaniga and the patient who was a split-brain patient: could not process the horror film
- Primary appraisal: unconscious, automatic, like reflex
- Secondary appraisal: potentially conscious, thought-like, gives rise to specific emotions
Appraisal and emotion
- Historical background and definitions
o Concept of evaluation goes back to Aristotle, followed by Epicurus and Chrysippus
o Chrysippus: distinguishedbetween what he called first movements of emotions
(automatic) and second movements (mental)
o Magda arnold and J.A. Gasson: reintroduced emotion as evaluation
o Richard Lazarus: researched stress. Stress produces vigilant attention and heitened
activity in the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system.
In the short term, it is an adaptive process, helping people respond to
threats, dangers and likely punishments with quick, energetic efficiency.
In the long term, chronic stress is dangerous (financial problems, turbulent
periods in marriage, etc.)
Many different kinds of stress: humiliation stress, losing a loved one, starting
a new career. Each different kind of stress promotes a particular kind of
emotion, by means of a specific appraisal process.
Lazarus proposes that appraisals involve judgments of how good or bad an
event is, and that appraisals concern the individual’s goals and aspirations.
Appraisals relate the outer world and the inner self
o Stein, Trabasso and Liwag propose that appraisals that give rise to emotions also
involve beliefs, inferences and plans:
1. An event, usually unexpected, is perceived that changes the status of a
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 to reinstate or modify
goal and likely results of plans are considered
What happened? What can I do about it and what might happen next?
- Automatic appraisals of good and bad
o Robert Zajonc: proposed that we process stimuli through several different appraisal
One system provides immediate, unconscious evaluation of whether
stimulus is good or bad (primary appraisal), probably involves the amygdala
Other systems: secondary, provide more deliberate conscious, complex
To study automatic evaluations, in suboptimal subliminal condition,
participants viewed photos of people for four milliseconds (happy or angry?
they don’t know). In optimal condition, participants viewed same foaces for
one second (aware of which faces they viewed). The subliminal pictures had
a priming effect on participants to like the ideographs
o Ulf Dimberg and Arne Ohman: those who subliminally saw angry faces became
slightly angry as well PSYC18 Chapter 7 – Appraisal, Knowledge and Experience
- Is the bad stronger than the good?
o Negative evaluatinos appear to be more potent than our positive evaluations
o Loss of $10 is more painful than pleasure at gaining $10. Negative trauma can
affect someone for a lifetime. Cockroaches making your food inedible. Not the
other way around.
Appraisal theories and distinct emotions
- Modern research on appraisal split into two families: discrete approaches (emphasize that
unique appraisals give rise to different emotions) and dimensional approaches (many
components of appraisals that relate to different emotions)
- Discrete approaches to appraisal.
o Lazarus proposed that there are two stages to the appraisal process
1) Individual evaluates whether event is relevant to personal goals or not, if
so, emotion is eliecited, if not no emotion ensues. Individual then appraises
ongoing events in terms of extent to which event is congruent or
incongruent with goals. Congruent = positive response. Incongruent =
2) Individual considers a causal attribution for the event, how to respond and
future consequences of action. Lazarus calls this the core relational theme of
o Oatley and Johnson-Laird: postulate appraisals with two components
First there is an appraisal of an event in relation to goals that is automatic
and unconscious (in terms of basic emotions such as happiness, sadness,
anger, fear and disgust). Each basic emotion has the function of setting the
brain into a mode adapted t odeal with a recurring situation (Progress with
goal, loss, frustration, threat, toxicity) Not just +ive and –ive.
- Dimensional approaches to appraisal
o Phoebe Ellsworth: two reasons why we need to think about emotion-related
appraisal from another perspective
Similarities between emotions. Ellsworth contends that an appraisal theory
needs to account for similarities as well as differences between emotions
(gratitude and happiness = pleasant)
Inability to account for transitions between emotions
8 dimensions: attention, certainty, control-co