Profiles of Emotion-antecedent Appraisal: Testing Theoretical Predictions across Cultures

Appraisal theories of emotion are theories that state that emotions result from people’s interpretations and explanations of their circumstances even in the absence of physiological arousal (Aronson, 2005).[3] There are two basic approaches; the structural approach and process model. These models both provide an explanation for the appraisal of emotions and explain in different ways how emotions can develop.  The basic premise of appraisal theories is that emotions are caused and differentiated by appraisal, a process in which values are determined for a number of appraisal factors such as goal relevance, goal in/congruence, un/expectedness, control, and agency.  Social psychologists have used this theory to explain and predict coping mechanisms and people’s patterns of emotionality.

Appraisal theory of emotion proposes that emotions or emotional components are caused and differentiated by an appraisal of the stimulus as mis/matching with goals and expectations, as easy/difficult to control, and as caused by others, themselves or impersonal circumstances. Cross-cultural comparison shows that emotion-specific appraisal profiles correlate highly across geopolitical culture regions. 

Study By: Klaus R. Scherer University of Geneva, Switzerland

Placed in a context of appraisal theories of emotion-elicitation and differentiation the present study pursues three aims: (1) testing theoretical predictions based on the author’ s Stimulus Evaluation Check (SEC) model; (2) examining the number and type s of appraisal dimensions necessary for emotion differentiation and the relative importance of different dimensions; and (3) determining the similarity of emotion-specific appraisal profiles across cultures. The data reported were gathered in a large-scale intercultural study in which 2921 respondents in 37 countries were asked to recall recent experiences of joy, sadness, fear, anger, disgust, shame, and guilt; and to answer questions concerning their appraisal of the emotion-eliciting event.

The results support many but not all of the SEC model’ s predictions. Multiple discriminant analyses suggest that a relatively small number of appraisal dimensions may be sufficient to classify the major emotion categories with a reasonable degree of accuracy. Cross-cultural comparison shows that emotion-specific appraisal profiles correlate highly across geo- political culture regions although there are consistent differences for some regions.