1995 Volume 37 Issue 1 Pages 40-55
Cognitive theories of emotion contend that people's appraisal or interpretation of events or circumstances determines the quality of emotion. This paper reviews theoretical and empirical work attempting to identify cognitive antecedents of emotions. Comparisons of dimensions proposed by Scherer, Roseman, Smith and Ellsworth, Manstead and Tetlock, Frijda, Reisenzein and Hofmann, Weiner, and Lazarus reveal that there are five major appraisal dimensions: Pleasantness, Expectedness/Certainty, Causation, Coping Potential, and Importance. It is argued that future studies need to (a) refine the conceptual definition of the dimensions, (b) identify minor dimensions that account for the differences among similar emotions, (c) examine the importance of social relationship dimensions, (d) incorporate individual differences in appraisal patterns, and (e) extend their theoretical framework from cognitive aspects to the whole system of emotion. It is also suggested that the cognitive theories have much to contribute to the study of communicative function as well as cultural aspects of emotion.