Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences

2020 Edition
| Editors: Virgil Zeigler-Hill, Todd K. Shackelford

Cognitive Theory of Emotion

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-24612-3_496



The term “cognitive theory of emotion” denotes a family of emotion theories, developed mostly in psychology and philosophy, which share the assumption that emotions (the episodic states of persons denoted in everyday language by words like “joy,” “sadness,” “hope,” “fear,” “anger,” “pity,” etc.), or at least a core subset of emotions, presuppose for their existence certain cognitions about the eliciting events. Typically it is assumed that these emotion-relevant cognitions determine, alone or together with noncognitive mental states (in particular, desires), whether or not an event elicits an emotion, the kind of emotion it elicits (e. g., joy, sadness) and the intensity of the elicited emotion (e.g., weak joy, intense joy).


In the classical formulation of cognitive emotion theory, the emotion-relevant cognitions are beliefs or judgments, such as...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Psychology, Department of General Psychology IIUniversity of GreifswaldGreifswaldGermany

Section editors and affiliations

  • Monika Wróbel
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of PsychologyUniversity of LodzLodzPoland