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Oatley and Johnson-Laird (1987) have proposed a cognitive theory of emotion. According to this theory, there are five basic emotions. A major prediction of the theory is that it should permit satisfactory definitions for all the emotion words in a language, and this was essayed for the English language by Johnson-Laird and Oatley (1989). The theory proposes that only one emotional state can be operative at a time, and therefore words referring to mixed emotions were defined by Johnson-Laird and Oatley as disjunctions of basic emotions. Two experiments are reported which com pared these disjunctive definitions with conjunctive definitions (i.e. definitions inconsistent with the theory). For a number of words, conjunctive definitions tended to be preferred. This tendency was increased when the disjunctions and conjunctions were made more explicit. This finding sug gests that Oatley and Johnson-Laird's theory should be modified so as to embrace the conjunction of emotion. That is, it should allow that two or more emotions can be exnerienced in parallel.

Original publication




Journal article


Cogn Emot

Publication Date





369 - 386