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      Solving the Emotion Paradox: Categorization and the Experience of Emotion

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      Personality and Social Psychology Review

      Informa UK Limited

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          Abstract

          In this article, I introduce an emotion paradox: People believe that they know an emotion when they see it, and as a consequence assume that emotions are discrete events that can be recognized with some degree of accuracy, but scientists have yet to produce a set of clear and consistent criteria for indicating when an emotion is present and when it is not. I propose one solution to this paradox: People experience an emotion when they conceptualize an instance of affective feeling. In this view, the experience of emotion is an act of categorization, guided by embodied knowledge about emotion. The result is a model of emotion experience that has much in common with the social psychological literature on person perception and with literature on embodied conceptual knowledge as it has recently been applied to social psychology.

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          Most cited references 107

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          A cognitive-affective system theory of personality: reconceptualizing situations, dispositions, dynamics, and invariance in personality structure.

          A theory was proposed to reconcile paradoxical findings on the invariance of personality and the variability of behavior across situations. For this purpose, individuals were assumed to differ in (a) the accessibility of cognitive-affective mediating units (such as encodings, expectancies and beliefs, affects, and goals) and (b) the organization of relationships through which these units interact with each other and with psychological features of situations. The theory accounts for individual differences in predictable patterns of variability across situations (e.g., if A then she X, but if B then she Y), as well as for overall average levels of behavior, as essential expressions or behavioral signatures of the same underlying personality system. Situations, personality dispositions, dynamics, and structure were reconceptualized from this perspective.
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            Core affect and the psychological construction of emotion.

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              Subcortical and cortical brain activity during the feeling of self-generated emotions.

              In a series of [15O]PET experiments aimed at investigating the neural basis of emotion and feeling, 41 normal subjects recalled and re-experienced personal life episodes marked by sadness, happiness, anger or fear. We tested the hypothesis that the process of feeling emotions requires the participation of brain regions, such as the somatosensory cortices and the upper brainstem nuclei, that are involved in the mapping and/or regulation of internal organism states. Such areas were indeed engaged, underscoring the close relationship between emotion and homeostasis. The findings also lend support to the idea that the subjective process of feeling emotions is partly grounded in dynamic neural maps, which represent several aspects of the organism's continuously changing internal state.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Personality and Social Psychology Review
                Pers Soc Psychol Rev
                Informa UK Limited
                1088-8683
                1532-7957
                December 21 2016
                February 2006
                December 21 2016
                February 2006
                : 10
                : 1
                : 20-46
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Psychology, Boston College
                Article
                10.1207/s15327957pspr1001_2
                16430327
                © 2006

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