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Am Psychol. 1991 Apr;46(4):352-67.

Cognition and motivation in emotion.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkley 94720.


The role of cognition--and to some extent motivation--in emotion, the ways meaning is generated, unconscious appraising, and the implications of this way of thinking for life-span development are addressed. It is argued that appraisal is a necessary as well as sufficient cause of emotion and that knowledge is necessary but not sufficient. This position is examined in light of what is known about emotions in infants and young children, the effects of drugs on acute emotions and moods, and recent patterns of thought about the brain in emotions. The discussion of how meaning is generated is the core of the article. Automatic processing without awareness is contrasted with deliberate and conscious processing, and the concept of resonance between an animal's needs and what is encountered in the environment is examined. The idea that there is more than one way meaning is achieved strengthens and enriches the case for the role of appraisal in emotion and allows the consideration of what is meant by unconscious and preconscious appraisal and the examination of how they might work.

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