Cognitive theories of emotion and how our emotion shapes our relationship

A lot of theories have emerged from research including cognitive theories of emotion to explain the cause, neurobiology, occurrence, and purpose of emotions. Some of these theories argue that emotion is distinct from cognition but the two are interrelating systems.

Opposing theories to Cognitive theories of emotion propose that cognitive ability is a crucial part of emotion and see the two systems as unified and not distinct from each other. The major contention is whether or not cognition is part of emotion or whether it should be considered as a separate system.

cognitive theories of emotion
cognitive theories of emotion

Proponents of the cognitive theory; Richard Lazarus, Scherer’s, George Mandler and Robert C. Solomon argue that cognitive activities like judgments, estimations, or thinking are the important part of every emotion you experience.

These theories also argue that every decision you take involve some element of emotion.

Components of emotion and Cognitive theories of emotion

In the past, emotion was seen as a single component but in recent times, it is seen to be composed of different components by different cognitive theories of emotion. The classification of the components of emotion is varied and depends on the academic discipline.

Scherer, for instance, argues that emotions are made up of 5 components which coordinate and synchronize together for you to experience any form of emotion. His cognitive theories of emotion components are:

  • Cognitive appraisal when you evaluate the events and objects that elicit emotion.
  • Bodily signs: when you begin to experience somebody signs as a result of the event or object.
  • Action tendency: you chose to either flee or fight.
  • Verbal or facial expression elicited by the emotion
  • Feelings: This is how you as an individual feel about that particular event.

Cognitive theories of emotion: Emotion often erroneously used interchangeably with other related neuroscience constructs

Emotion is related but different from other neuroscience constructs like mood, temperament, personality, disposition, and motivation. Feeling, for example, is different from emotion. How you feel when you are angry is different from the way others feel. Your feelings are specific to you.

Can you remember somebody stepping on your toes? How did you feel?  Do you think the way you felt and reacted is how another person would exactly feel and react?

If no, why do you think you reacted the way you did and why is it that you may exactly differently to the same emotion at different times? Do you know that you have the capacity to change how you feel when angry?

Your feelings are how you perceive the physical changes that occur in your body and are peculiar to you. The steps you take can actually help you feel better although your emotion remains the same!

Decision making is emotional and not logical

You are both a logically intelligent and an emotional being. The logical and emotional parts of you constantly work together to detect how you feel when confronted with any form of emotion.

The recent discovery in neuroscience through the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) to study patients with brain lesions, parts of the brain that are responsible for different types of emotion have been discovered.

The study also showed that emotions are very important part of decision making and although the logical reasoning is involved in decision making, the actual choice is based on emotions.

Do you think the intelligent reasoning is what makes you choose to take or not take a certain action or do you think your decision is attached with emotion?

Judging from the ongoing, do you think you have been able to manage your emotion well? Where have you gone wrong? Is there a way to remedy it and make positive emotions lead your life instead of negative ones?

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