Advertisement

Sadness, the Architect of Cognitive Change

  • Melissa M. Karnaze
  • Linda J. Levine
Chapter

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Sadness Negative emotion Affect Loss Grief Adaptive Function Goals Cognition 

References

  1. Ambady, N., & Gray, H. M. (2002). On being sad and mistaken: Mood effects on the accuracy of thin-slice judgments. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83, 947–961.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Andrews, P. W., & Thomson, J. A., Jr. (2009). The bright side of being blue: Depression as an adaptation for analyzing complex problems. Psychological Review, 116, 620–654.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Au, K., Chan, F., Wang, D., & Vertinsky, I. (2003). Mood in foreign exchange trading: Cognitive processes and performance. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 91, 322–338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Balsters, M. J., Krahmer, E. J., Swerts, M. G., & Vingerhoets, A. J. (2013). Emotional tears facilitate the recognition of sadness and the perceived need for social support. Evolutionary Psychology, 11, 148–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bell, S. M., & Ainsworth, M. D. S. (1972). Infant crying and maternal responsiveness. Child Development, 43, 1171–1190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bowlby, J. (1980). Attachment and loss: Volume 3. Loss. New York, NY: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  7. Carnelley, K. B., Wortman, C. B., Bolger, N., & Burke, C. T. (2006). The time course of grief reactions to spousal loss: Evidence from a national probability sample. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91, 476–492.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Carver, C. S. (2015). Control processes, priority management, and affective dynamics. Emotion Review, 7, 301–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Carver, C. S., & Scheier, M. F. (1990). Origins and functions of positive and negative affect: A control-process view. Psychological Review, 97, 19–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chong, S., & Park, G. (2017). The differential effects of incidental anger and sadness on goal regulation. Learning and Motivation, 58, 1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cialdini, R. B., Schaller, M., Houlihan, D., Arps, K., Fultz, J., & Beaman, A. L. (1987). Empathy-based helping: Is it selflessly or selfishly motivated? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 749–758.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Ciarocco, N. J., Vohs, K. D., & Baumeister, R. F. (2010). Some good news about rumination: Task-focused thinking after failure facilitates performance improvement. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 29, 1057–1073.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cooper, R. P., & Shallice, T. (2006). Hierarchical schemas and goals in the control of sequential behavior. Psychological Review, 113, 887–916.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Crawford, C. B., Salter, B. E., & Jang, K. L. (1989). Human grief: Is its intensity related to the reproductive value of the deceased? Ethology and Sociobiology, 10, 297–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dehghani, M., Carnevale, P. J., & Gratch, J. (2014). Interpersonal effects of expressed anger and sorrow in morally charged negotiation. Judgment and Decision making, 9, 104–113.Google Scholar
  16. Dunne, E., Wrosch, C., & Miller, G. E. (2011). Goal disengagement, functional disability, and depressive symptoms in old age. Health Psychology, 30, 763–770.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Eisenberg, N., Fabes, R. A., Miller, P. A., Fultz, J., Shell, R., Mathy, R. M., & Reno, R. R. (1989). Relation of sympathy and personal distress to prosocial behavior: A multimethod study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 55–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Elfenbein, H. A., & Ambady, N. (2002). On the universality and cultural specificity of emotion recognition: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 128, 203–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Forgas, J. P. (1998). On being happy and mistaken: Mood effects on the fundamental attribution error. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75, 318–331.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Forgas, J. P. (1999). On feeling good and being rude: Affective influences on language use and request formulations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76, 928–939.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Forgas, J. P., Laham, S. M., & Vargas, P. T. (2005). Mood effects on eyewitness memory: Affective influences on susceptibility to misinformation. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 41, 574–588.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Frijda, N. H. (1986). The emotions: Studies in emotion and social interaction. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Gable, P., & Harmon-Jones, E. (2010). The blues broaden, but the nasty narrows: Attentional consequences of negative affects low and high in motivational intensity. Psychological Science, 21, 211–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gross, J. J., & Barrett, L. (2011). Emotion generation and emotion regulation: One or two depends on your point of view. Emotion Review, 3, 8–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Harmon-Jones, E., Gable, P. A., & Price, T. F. (2013). Does negative affect always narrow and positive affect always broaden the mind? Considering the influence of motivational intensity on cognitive scope. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 22, 301–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Harmon-Jones, E., Price, T. F., & Gable, P. A. (2012). The influence of affective states on cognitive broadening/narrowing: Considering the importance of motivational intensity: Affect, motivation, and cognitive scope. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 6, 314–327.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Heckhausen, J., Wrosch, C., & Fleeson, W. (2001). Developmental regulation before and after a developmental deadline: The sample case of “biological clock” for childbearing. Psychology and Aging, 16, 400–413.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Heckhausen, J., Wrosch, C., & Schulz, R. (2010). A motivational theory of life-span development. Psychological Review, 117, 32–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Huntsinger, J. R., Isbell, L. M., & Clore, J. L. (2014). The affective control of thought: Malleable, not fixed. Psychological Review, 121, 600–618.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Huntsinger, J. R., & Ray, C. (2016). A flexible influence of affective feelings on creative and analytic performance. Emotion, 16, 826–837.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kaplan, R. L., Van Damme, I., Levine, L. J., & Loftus, E. F. (2016). Emotion and false memory. Emotion Review, 8, 8–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kappes, H. B., Oettingen, G., Mayer, D., & Maglio, S. (2011). Sad mood promotes self-initiated mental contrasting of future and reality. Emotion, 11, 1206–1222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kashdan, T. B., Young, K. C., & McKnight, P. E. (2012). When is rumination an adaptive mood repair strategy? Day-to-day rhythms of life in combat veterans with and without posttraumatic stress disorder. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 26, 762–768.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Keller, M. C., & Nesse, R. M. (2005). Is low mood an adaptation? Evidence for subtypes with symptoms that match precipitants. Journal of Affective Disorders, 86, 27–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Keltner, D., Ekman, P., Gonzaga, G. C., & Beer, J. (2003). Facial expression of emotion. In R. J. Davidson, K. R. Scherer, & H. H. Goldsmith (Eds.), Series in affective science. Handbook of affective sciences (pp. 415–432). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Klinger, E. (1975). Consequences of commitment to and disengagement from incentives. Psychological Review, 82, 1–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lench, H. C., Tibbett, T. P., & Bench, S. W. (2016). Exploring the toolkit of emotion: What do sadness and anger do for us? Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 10, 11–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lerner, J. S., Li, Y., & Weber, E. U. (2013). The financial costs of sadness. Psychological Science, 24, 72–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Levine, L. J. (1995). Young children’s understanding of the causes of anger and sadness. Child Development, 66, 697–709.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Levine, L. J., & Edelstein, R. S. (2009). Emotion and memory narrowing: A review and goal-relevance approach. Cognition and Emotion, 23, 833–875.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Levine, L. J., & Pizarro, D. A. (2004). Emotion and memory research: A grumpy overview. Social Cognition, 22, 530–554.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Littlefield, C. H., & Rushton, J. P. (1986). When a child dies: The sociobiology of bereavement. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 797–802.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Lyubomirsky, S., Caldwell, N. D., & Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (1998). Effects of ruminative and distracting responses to depressed mood on retrieval of autobiographical memories. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75, 166–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Lyubomirsky, S., & Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (1993). Self-perpetuating properties of dysphoric rumination. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65, 339–349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Matsumoto, D., & Willingham, B. (2006). The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat: Spontaneous expressions of medal winners of the 2004 Athens Olympic games. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91, 568–581.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Mauss, I. B., Levenson, R. W., McCarter, L., Wilhelm, F. H., & Gross, J. J. (2005). The tie that binds? Coherence among emotion experience, behavior, and physiology. Emotion, 5, 175–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Mendola, R., Tennen, H., Affleck, G., McCann, L., & Fitzgerald, T. (1990). Appraisal and adaptation among women with impaired fertility. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 14, 79–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Moors, A., Ellsworth, P. C., Scherer, K. R., & Frijda, N. H. (2013). Appraisal theories of emotion: State of the art and future development. Emotion Review, 5, 119–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Mouchet-Mages, S., & Baylé, F. J. (2008). Sadness as an integral part of depression. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, 10, 321–327.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  50. Nesse, R. M. (1990). Evolutionary explanations of emotions. Human Nature, 1, 261–289.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Nesse, R. M. (1991). What good is feeling bad? The evolutionary benefits of psychic pain. The Sciences, 31, 30–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Nesse, R. M. (2000). Is depression an adaptation? Archives of General Psychiatry, 57, 14–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Nezlek, J. B., Vansteelandt, K., Van Mechelen, I., & Kuppens, P. (2008). Appraisal-emotion relationships in daily life. Emotion, 8, 145–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Nolen-Hoeksema, S., & Schweizer, S. (2010). Emotion-regulation strategies across psychopathology: A meta-analytic review. Clinical Psychology Review, 30, 217–237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Nolen-Hoeksema, S., Wisco, B. E., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2008). Rethinking rumination. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 3, 400–424.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Oatley, K., & Duncan, E. (1994). The experience of emotions in everyday life. Cognition and Emotion, 8, 369–381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Oettingen, G., Pak, H. J., & Schnetter, K. (2001). Self-regulation of goal-setting: Turning free fantasies about the future into binding goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 80, 736–753.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Reed, L. I., & DeScioli, P. (2017). The communicative function of sad facial expressions. Evolutionary Psychology, 15, 1–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Reynolds, M., & Brewin, C. R. (1999). Intrusive memories in depression and posttraumatic stress disorder. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 37, 201–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Roseman, I. J. (1984). Cognitive determinants of emotion: A structural theory. Review of Personality and Social Psychology, 5, 11–36.Google Scholar
  61. Rucker, D. D., & Petty, R. E. (2004). Emotion specificity and consumer behavior: Anger, sadness, and preference for activity. Motivation and Emotion, 28, 3–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Sbarra, D. A. (2006). Predicting the onset of emotional recovery following nonmarital relationship dissolution: Survival analyses of sadness and anger. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32, 298–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Schwarz, N. (2012). Feelings-as-information theory. In P. Van Lange, A. Kruglanski, & E. T. Higgins (Eds.), Handbook of theories of social psychology (pp. 289–308). London, UK: Sage.Google Scholar
  64. Siemer, M., Mauss, I., & Gross, J. J. (2007). Same situation – different emotions: How appraisals shape our emotions. Emotion, 7, 592–600.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Simon, H. A. (1967). Motivational and emotional controls of cognition. Psychological Review, 74, 29–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Small, D. A., & Lerner, J. S. (2008). Emotional policy: Personal sadness and anger shape judgments about a welfare case. Political Psychology, 29, 149–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Smith, M. L., Cottrell, G. W., Gosselin, F., & Schyns, P. G. (2005). Transmitting and decoding facial expressions. Psychological Science, 16, 184–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Stein, N. L., & Levine, L. J. (1987). Thinking about feelings: The development and organization of emotional knowledge. Aptitude, Learning, and Instruction, 3, 165–197.Google Scholar
  69. Sznycer, D., Cosmides, L., & Tooby, J. (2017). Adaptationism carves emotions at their functional joints. Psychological Inquiry, 28, 56–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Tice, D. M., Bratslavsky, E., & Baumeister, R. F. (2001). Emotional distress regulation takes precedence over impulse control: If you feel bad, do it! Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 80, 53–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Tooby, J., & Cosmides, L. (1990). The past explains the present: Emotional adaptations and the structure of ancestral environments. Ethology and Sociobiology, 11, 375–424.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Tooby, J., Cosmides, L., Sell, A., Lieberman, D., & Sznycer, D. (2008). Internal regulatory variables and the design of human motivation: A computational and evolutionary approach. In A. J. Elliot (Ed.), Handbook of approach and avoidance motivation (pp. 251–271). New York, NY: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  73. Van Damme, I., Kaplan, R. L., Levine, L. J., & Loftus, E. F. (2017). Emotion and false memory: How goal-irrelevance can be relevant for what people remember. Memory, 25, 201–213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Verduyn, P., Delvaux, E., Van Coillie, H., Tuerlinckx, F., & Van Mechelen, I. (2009). Predicting the duration of emotional experience: Two experience sampling studies. Emotion, 9, 83–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Vingerhoets, A. J., & Bylsma, L. M. (2016). The riddle of human emotional crying: A challenge for emotion researchers. Emotion Review, 8, 207–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Watkins, E., & Teasdale, J. D. (2001). Rumination and overgeneral memory in depression: Effects of self-focus and analytic thinking. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 110, 353–357.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Wrosch, C., & Miller, G. E. (2009). Depressive symptoms can be useful: Self-regulatory and emotional benefits of dysphoric mood in adolescence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 96, 1181–1190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Wrosch, C., & Sabiston, C. M. (2013). Goal adjustment, physical and sedentary activity, and well-being and health among breast cancer survivors. Psycho-Oncology, 22, 581–589.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Wrosch, C., Scheier, M. F., Carver, C. S., & Shulz, R. (2003). The importance of goal disengagement in adaptive self-regulation: When giving up is beneficial. Self and Identity, 2, 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

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

Personalised recommendations