Sadness, the Architect of Cognitive Change

  • Melissa M. Karnaze
  • Linda J. Levine


Emotions guide action in ways that are frequently adaptive. Fear, disgust, and anger motivate people to act to avoid danger, shun contamination, and overcome obstacles to their goals. But what good does feeling sad do? This seemingly passive state is often characterized by behavioral withdrawal and rumination. This chapter reviews theory and research concerning the types of situations that elicit sadness and the effects of sadness on expression, behavior, and cognition. Evidence suggests that, far from being passive, sadness is an architect of cognitive change, directing the challenging but essential work of reconstructing goals and beliefs when people face irrevocable loss.


Sadness Negative emotion Affect Loss Grief Adaptive Function Goals Cognition 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology and Social BehaviorUniversity of California, IrvineIrvineUSA

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