Chapter 4: Cognitive Appraisal Theory
The CPM states that the appraisals that result from each check are highly subjective and based on an individual’s perceptions of the eliciting event. This suggests that personality traits, motivational states, cultural norms, gender, and group pressures all influence our evaluations of the eliciting event.
The CPM is a continuous process in which our first appraisal starts with the relevance check and moves sequentially to the next check. Once the appraisal process starts, though, our conclusions at each step could influence other checks. In addition, as people go through each appraisal check, the intensity of their emotion increases. An emotion is least intense during the first relevance check and most intense at the normative event significance check. This is because as we go through each check, we gain more information about the emotion.
Below is Table 2 reproduced from Scherer (2001, p. 326). This table displays example emotions in the top row and the SECs in the left column. This table shows the appraisal patterns that might occur for different emotions. Remember, Scherer (2001) is interested in how certain appraisal profiles can be used to distinguish emotional experiences. (Note: The prior chapter did not cover discrepancy from expectation, but this SEC is listed in the table).
Appraisal profiles for certain discrete emotions
|Novelty – Suddenness||Low||High/med||Open||Open||Low||High||Low|
|Novelty – Familiarity||Open||Open||Low||Open||Low||Very Low||Open|
|Novelty – Predictability||Medium||Low||Low||Open||Open||Low||Open|
|Intrinsic Pleasantness||High||Open||Very Low||Open||Open||Open||Open|
|Goal / Need relevance||Medium||High||Low||Low||High||High||Medium|
|Implication – Cause: Agent||Open||Open||Open||Open||Open||Oth/Nat||Oth/Nat|
|Implication – Cause: Motive||Intent||Cha/int||Open||Intent||Cha/Neg||Cha/Neg||Open|
|Implication – Outcome Probability||Very High||Very High||Very High||High||Very High||Very High||Medium|
|Implication – Discrepancy from Expectation||Consonant||Open||Open||Open||Open||Dissonant||Open|
|Implication – Conduciveness||Conducive||Vcon||Open||Open||Obstruct||Obstruct||Obstruct|
|Implication – Urgency||Very Low||Low||Medium||Low||Low||High||Medium|
|Coping Potential – Control||Open||Open||Open||High||Very Low||Open||Open|
|Coping Potential – Power||Open||Open||Open||Low||Very Low||Very Low||Low|
|Coping Potential – Adjustments||High||Medium||Open||High||Medium||Very Low||Medium|
|Normative Significance – Internal Standards||Open||Open||Open||Very Low||Open||Open||Open|
|Normative Significance – External Standards||Open||Open||Open||Very Low||Open||Open||Open|
|Novelty – Suddenness||High||Low||High||Very Low||Low||Open||Open|
|Novelty – Familiarity||Low||Open||Low||High||Open||Open||Open|
|Novelty – Predictability||Low||Medium||Low||Very High||Open||Open||Open|
|Implications – Cause: Agent||Oth/Nat||Open||Other||Open||Self||Self||Self|
|Implications – Cause: Motive||Open||Int/Neg||Intent||Open||Int/Neg||Intent||Intent|
|Implications – Outcome Probability||High||Very High||Very High||Very High||Very High||Very High||Very High|
|Implications – Discrepancy from Expectation||Dissonant||Open||Dissonant||Consonant||Open||Open||Open|
|Implications – Conduciveness||Obstruct||Obstruct||Obstruct||Open||Open||High||High|
|Implications – Urgency||Very High||Medium||High||Low||High||Medium||Low|
|Coping Potential – Control||Open||High||High||Medium||Open||Open||Open|
|Coping Potential – Power||Very Low||Medium||High||Medium||Open||Open||Open|
|Coping Potential – Adjustments||Low||High||High||High||Medium||Medium||High|
|Normative Significance – Internal Standards||Open||Open||Open||Open||Very Low||Very Low||Very High|
|Normative Significance – External Standards||Open||Low||Low||Open||Open||Very Low||High|
Reproduced from “A Systems Approach to Appraisal Mechanisms in Emotion,” by D. Sander, D. Grandjean, and K.R. Scherer, 2005, Neural Networks, 18(4), p. 326, (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neunet.2005.03.001). Copyright 2005 Elsevier.
Finally, Figure 8 below demonstrates the how the emotional experience unfolds from the perspective of CPM. After each broad appraisal check, people experience changes in physiology (called “autonomic physiology”), changes in behavior (called “action tendencies” and “motor expression”), and conscious subjective feelings. It is important to note that these three changes – physiology, behavior, and subjective feelings – in turn, influence each of the later appraisal checks.
Visual of How Emotion Components Unfold Over Time and Continuously Influence Each Other