Cognition and emotion—this phrase connects two concepts, but it is ambiguous. For some people it means the cognitive approach to emotion. For others it means the joining of two domains, cognition and affect, that were previously thought to be disparate. Understandings of cognition and emotion, under both meanings of the phrase, now occupy a prominent place in psychology and psychiatry, and this useful book is a result.
In their excellent textbook.
Cognition and Emotion: From Order to Disorder, Mick Power and Tim Dalgleish offered, for the first time, a cognitive treatment that was systematically applied all the way from normal emotions through to emotional disorders. Fresh from that success, Dalgleish and Power have now assembled this impressive handbook which, again, is a first.
With a transparent organization, it offers a broad coverage of cognition and emotion by a set of distinguished contributors, many of whom have been instrumental in establishing the field.
Books such as this are important in any science: they mark the phase in which enough is understood to define a field. Research on emotion generally has progressed from a state in which there were scattered publications, infrequent conferences and occasional edited books, to one in which there are journals devoted to emotions, an international society, textbooks, and handbooks such as this one.
After a lull during the first half of the century after it came to be dominated, at least in America, by the theory of William James and by opposition to it from his son-in-law Walter Cannon, research on emotion branched into new directions. In 1951, John Bowlby published his first book on attachment, the theory of which came to be based on the cognitive idea of mental models.
From that time, emotions and their functions came to be of interest to developmental psychologists. Emotional development, which turns out also to be social development, has now achieved an importance at least equal to intellectual development. In this volume, developmental research—with a cognitive emphasis—is represented in a chapter by Michael Lewis, and one by Nancy Stein and Linda Levine.
At almost the same time, in 1954, Sylvan Tomkins began his work on emotion. He, too, had cognitive interests. Inspired by his new approach, there was a renewal of research on facial expression and restatements of the idea of a small number of basic emotions, each with distinctive cognitive and experiential properties. Here, this line of research is represented in two chapters by Paul Ekman. Also in 1954.
Magda Arnold began developing her approach to appraisal of events as the principal means by which emotions are elicited. Appraisal has come to be central to almost all cognitive theories of emotion—discussions in this book arc offered by Richard [.azarus and by Klaus Scherer. By now, a distinctive family of cognitive theories of emotion has grown up .
The field of cognition and emotion is important in psychology and psychiatry, because it has finally established emotion as essential to the understanding of mind. A current cognitive conception, for which there is a broad consensus, is that emotions are central to mental and social life because they are our fundamental mediators between inner and outer worlds. They relate what is personally important (goals, concerns, aspirations) to the world (events, people, things).
If we humans merely worked from what was important to us, wc would be bundles of drives and species-typical action patterns. If we merely responded to events, wc would be reflex machines. Instead, because of mediation by emotions, some aspects of our lives are given meaningful urgency, some people we know become uniquely important, and our many goals are prioritized.
From cognitive reformulations of psychology of the 1960s and 1970s. emotions were at first excluded, perhaps because they seemed too amorphous. Now, however, a growing understanding of effects of emotions on memory, reasoning, and attention (see Part II) and cognitive analyses of the elicitation and functions of specific emotions (see Part III) have established the field.
Understanding emotions has distinctive areas of application, notably the psychological therapies. These are modern descendents of those pioneered by the Hellenistic ethical philosophers, the F.picureans and Stoics, who were the first in the West to study systematically the relations between cognition and emotion, as ways of understanding their implications for self and society, and among the first to show how unwanted passions might be controlled.
This book shows how research on emotions has thrived in the social sciences and in philosophy in recent years. It demonstrates how our understanding of emotions has been influenced by cognitive approaches and, if we lake cognition and emotion as separable domains, it shows also how’ fundamentally important these domains arc in their influence on each other.