There has long been interest in describing emotional experience in terms of underlying dimensions, but traditionally only two dimensions, pleasantness and arousal, have been reliably found. The reasons for these findings are reviewed, and integrating this review with two recent theories of emotions (Roseman, 1984; Scherer, 1982), we propose eight cognitive appraisal dimensions to differentiate emotional experience. In an investigation of this model, subjects recalled past experiences associated with each of 15 emotions, and rated them along the proposed dimensions. Six orthogonal dimensions, pleasantness, anticipated effort, certainty, attentional activity, self-other responsibility/control, and situational control, were recovered, and the emotions varied systematically along each of these dimensions, indicating a strong relation between the appraisal of one's circumstances and one's emotional state. The patterns of appraisal for the different emotions, and the role of each of the dimensions in differentiating emotional experience are discussed.