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Having adopted early on the perspective that emotional reactions were organized and had evolved to serve largely adaptive functions, Magda Arnold was among the first of the the contemporary emotion theorists to recognize the difficulty and importance of addressing the processes by which emotions occur. Arnold Arnold, M. B. (1960). Emotion and personality (2 vols.). New York: Columbia University Press. and virtually all subsequent theorists started with the assumption that different emotions served different sets of circumstances. The puzzle that appraisal theory set out to solve, then, was to describe the mechanism that had evolved to elicit the appropriate emotional reaction when a person was confronted with circumstances in which the functions(s) served by that emotion were called for. This puzzle was complicated by the fact that, as Arnold recognized and subsequent appraisal theorists emphasized, emotions are not simple, reflexive responses to a stimulus situation. It is relatively easy to document that the same objective stimulus situation will evoke a broad range of emotions across individuals. Thus, an evaluative exam that might be anxiety producing to a person who doubts his abilities might we a welcome challenge to one who is confident of hers, and yet elicit indifference in one who is not invested in the outcome. Rather than assuming that this heterogeneity or response reflected a disorganized or chaotic system (as did the conflict theorists), beginning with Arnold, appraisal theorists have assumed that emotional reactions are highly relational, in that they take into account not only the circumstances confronting an individual, but also what those circumstances imply for the individual in light of her or her personal hopes, desires, abilities, and the like. The elicitation mechanism Arnold proposed to give emotion this relational character was one of "appraisal," which she defined as an evaluation of the potential harms or benefits presented in any given situation. She then defined emotion as "the felt tendency toward anything intuitively appraised as good (beneficial), or away from anything intuitively appraised as bad (harmful)" (p. 182).

So people make intuitive, unconscious appraisals about things that determine what the emotions they are going to feel are. You might unconsciously decide that something is going to be good for you, so therefore that thing is going to make you feel good. However, this unconscious appraisal process is probably a lot more complicated than that. There are many unconscious reasons why something might cause positive or negative emotions. Furthermore, each emotion has a different, unique feeling that could be described by describing whatever is causing the emotion, and how that cause is unique.

Beyond being relational, it is important to note that appraisal is also meaning-based and evaluative. the fact that appraisal combines both properties of the stimulus situation and of the person making the appraisal means that it cannot be a simple or reflexive response to the emotion-evoking stimulus. Instead the appraisal is a reflection of what the stimulus means to the individual. Appraisal is also evaluative, in that it does not reflect a cold analysis of the situation, but rather, as Arnold emphasized, it is a very personal assessment of whether the situation is good or bad-is it (potentially) beneficial or harmful for me? That this evaluation is meaning based, rather than stimulus based, provides the emotion system with considerable flexibility and adaptational power. Not only will different individuals react to very similar situations with different emotions (as illustrated previously), but also objectively very different situations can elicit the same emotions if they imply the same meaning to the individuals appraising them. In addition, an individual can react very differently to the same situation across time if changes in her or her desires and abilities alter the implications of that situation for his or her well-being.

Questions & Answers

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Julie Reply
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Julie
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IDRIS
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dominance of agriculture and ignorance of development avenues are some characteristics of traditional societies.
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Elasticity is defined as the degree of responsiveness of quantity demanded to slight change in price, cost of other products and income of consumer.....
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Rashid
Monetary Policy; is the objectives of the central bank in exercising its control over money, interest rates, and credit conditions.
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For economic development is not possible without economic growth but economic growth is possible without economic development. For example, when there is an observed increase in GDP from 3 million to 4 million over a period of 5 years, we say that there is economic growth.
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Source:  OpenStax, Emotion, cognition, and social interaction - information from psychology and new ideas topics self help. OpenStax CNX. Jul 11, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col10403/1.71
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