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      Are Emotions Natural Kinds?

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      Perspectives on Psychological Science
      Wiley

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          Abstract

          Laypeople and scientists alike believe that they know anger, or sadness, or fear, when they see it. These emotions and a few others are presumed to have specific causal mechanisms in the brain and properties that are observable (on the face, in the voice, in the body, or in experience)-that is, they are assumed to be natural kinds. If a given emotion is a natural kind and can be identified objectively, then it is possible to make discoveries about that emotion. Indeed, the scientific study of emotion is founded on this assumption. In this article, I review the accumulating empirical evidence that is inconsistent with the view that there are kinds of emotion with boundaries that are carved in nature. I then consider what moving beyond a natural-kind view might mean for the scientific understanding of emotion.

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          Most cited references175

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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.

            At the heart of emotion, mood, and any other emotionally charged event are states experienced as simply feeling good or bad, energized or enervated. These states--called core affect--influence reflexes, perception, cognition, and behavior and are influenced by many causes internal and external, but people have no direct access to these causal connections. Core affect can therefore be experienced as free-floating (mood) or can be attributed to some cause (and thereby begin an emotional episode). These basic processes spawn a broad framework that includes perception of the core-affect-altering properties of stimuli, motives, empathy, emotional meta-experience, and affect versus emotion regulation; it accounts for prototypical emotional episodes, such as fear and anger, as core affect attributed to something plus various nonemotional processes.
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              Emotion, cognition, and behavior.

              R J Dolan (2002)
              Emotion is central to the quality and range of everyday human experience. The neurobiological substrates of human emotion are now attracting increasing interest within the neurosciences motivated, to a considerable extent, by advances in functional neuroimaging techniques. An emerging theme is the question of how emotion interacts with and influences other domains of cognition, in particular attention, memory, and reasoning. The psychological consequences and mechanisms underlying the emotional modulation of cognition provide the focus of this article.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Perspectives on Psychological Science
                Perspect Psychol Sci
                Wiley
                1745-6916
                1745-6924
                June 24 2016
                March 2006
                June 24 2016
                March 2006
                : 1
                : 1
                : 28-58
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Boston College
                Article
                10.1111/j.1745-6916.2006.00003.x
                26151184
                f7bd6252-93de-498d-9e54-055ac0c3e2d4
                © 2006

                http://journals.sagepub.com/page/policies/text-and-data-mining-license


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