Chapter 3: Basic Emotion Theory and Social Constructivist Theory

Chapter 3 Introduction

Four Modern Perspectives on Emotion

Currently, four modern perspectives guide research in emotions. These four perspectives are:

  1. Basic Emotion
  2. Social Constructivist
  3. Cognitive Appraisal
  4. The Dimensional Approach.


Basic Emotion Theory views emotions as biological, universal, and adaptive. Conversely, the social constructivist approach views emotions as learned and culturally constructed. Cognitive appraisal theory highlights the importance of our cognitive appraisals or interpretations in determining our emotions. Finally, the dimensional approach emphasizes conscious, subjective feelings as determinants of emotions.

These four theories are intertwined. For instance, cognitive appraisal and dimensional theorists may ascribe to the basic emotion or social constructivist perspective. In other words, cognitive appraisal theorists might believe appraisals are culturally constructed or universal.

We will discuss each of these theories in-depth, and in later chapters discuss how each perspective views specific emotions such as anger, fear, and disgust.


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