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This article aims to clarify the nature of the relation between cognitive appraisal and emotion. I distinguish a range of alternative possible hypotheses according to whether this appraisal-emotion connection is assumed to operate at the conceptual or empirical level, whether it is supposed to be a descriptive or causal relation, and whether it is seen as having a contingent or necessary basis. Reviewing the varieties of available evidence for connections at different levels, find little support for empirical rather than conceptual relations or for necessary as opposed to contingent ones. Ways are suggested in which this evidence might be extended so that more substantive conclusions are possible. I contend that future progress in this research area requires tighter specification of the different kinds of appraisal process that operate during real-time emotional episodes and of their potential interactions with other aspects of the unfolding emotional syndrome. Finally, I develop an alternative perspective on appraisal-emotion relations that views appraisals as representing the message value of interpersonally directed emotions, and I suggest future directions for research based on this approach.

Original publication




Journal article


Pers Soc Psychol Rev

Publication Date





62 - 79