Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 1–26 | Cite as

An investigation of dimensions of cognitive appraisal in emotion using the repertory grid technique

  • Rainer Reisenzein
  • Thomas Hofmann


Two studies examining dimensions of cognitive appraisals in emotion are reported. In study 1, a simplified version of the repertory grid technique was used to empirically determine dimensions of appraisal perceived as salient by individuals. Subjects were presented with a subset of the possible pairings of appraisal-characterized situation descriptions for each of 23 common emotions, and were asked to indicate attributes on which the compared situations differed. Evidence for at least 10 potential dimensions of cognitive appraisal was obtained, with those related to valence, causality/agency, social relationship aspects, and temporal aspects being mentioned most frequently. Although all dimensions were at least roughly comparable to appraisal dimensions postulated by previous investigators, some of them have only been given marginal attention so far, and several proposed dimensions could not be recovered. Study 2 was performed to validate and further clarify the appraisal dimensions suggested by the first investigation, using a grid with columns prelabeled by items designed to assess these dimensions. Most of the dimensions could be validated; together, they permitted the correct statistical classification of 64% of the individual emotion ratings. The results attest to the usefulness of the repertory grid technique in investigations of dimensions of emotional appraisal. The article concludes with a number of suggestions for further research using this method.


Social Psychology Social Relationship Statistical Classification Previous Investigator Temporal Aspect 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rainer Reisenzein
    • 1
  • Thomas Hofmann
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Psychology (WE 7)Free University BerlinBerlin H33Federal Republic of Germany
  2. 2.Technical University BerlinGermany

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