Chapter Review

Characterizing Emotion

  • The experience of emotion is generally brief, lasting only seconds or minutes; moods often last for hours or days.
  • Emotions are usually specific to people and events, and motivate individuals to achieve specific goals.
  • Appraisal processes are the construal processes that trigger emotions. In the primary appraisal stage, we evaluate whether ongoing events are congruent with our goals. In the secondary appraisal stage, we determine why we feel as we do and what to do about it, considering different ways of responding and possible consequences.
  • Emotions involve expressive processes, enabling us to communicate our feelings and reactions through facial expression, touch, the voice, and art.
  • Language enables us to label our emotions, and emotion shapes our attention, memories, and judgments.

Universality and Cultural Specificity of Emotion

  • There are universal aspects to emotion based on evolutionary factors; emotions enable us to respond quickly and effectively to threats and opportunities related to survival.
  • Paul Ekman’s studies revealed that people in dramatically different cultures judge expressions of anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise in a highly similar fashion.
  • There are cultural differences in when and which emotions are expressed. Some cultures develop specific ways of expressing a particular emotion, known as an emotion accent. Cultures vary in which emotions are focal, or common in everyday experience. Cultures vary in how many words they have in their language to describe emotion. And cultures vary in which emotions are highly valued, or idealized.

Emotions and Social Relationships

  • With brief touches we can communicate emotions like love, compassion, and gratitude, which are vital to intimate relationships.
  • We often mimic the expressive behaviors and emotions of others, and this process brings us closer to others.
  • A chemical known as oxytocin, which circulates through the brain and bloodstream, promotes trust and devotion.
  • Emotional intelligence, which captures four ways in which people use emotions wisely, predicts healthier social relationships of every kind.
  • The expression of some emotions, like anger, gives -people high status within groups, whereas emotions such as embarrassment confer lower status.
  • Emotions establish group boundaries. People have been shown to infrahumanize outgroup members: they attribute basic emotions like anger and disgust to outgroups, but assume that outgroups do not so readily experience the more complex emotions, like embarrassment.

Emotions and Social Cognition

  • The feelings-as-information perspective says that -emotions provide rapid and reliable information for judgments when we don’t have time to evaluate complex information. Studies have found that momentary emotions influence judgments of life satisfaction and risk.
  • Emotions influence moral judgments in powerful ways. Feelings of disgust make us judge impure behaviors (for example, cigarette smoking) as wrong.
  • The processing style perspective says that emotions lead us to process information in different ways. Positive emotions lead to the use of heuristics and stereotypes; negative emotions lead to more systematic and detailed assessments. The broaden-and-build hypothesis holds that positive emotions broaden our thought, prompting us to see greater similarities with individuals from other groups, and build stronger relationships.


  • Our overall assessments of pleasure seem closely tied to the peak and end of a pleasurable stimulus and, surprisingly, have little to do with its duration. Our ability to predict the sources of happiness turns out to be suspect, in part because of two biases: immune neglect and focalism.
  • Many objective factors, such as gender, age, and money, have small effects on our happiness. Sociocultural factors, such as relationships and social equality, have substantial effects on our happiness.
  • A new science of happiness says that happiness promotes healthy marriages and helps people live longer.
  • About 40 percent of a person’s happiness is due to the habits and practices that the individual chooses to cultivate. Writing about times of difficulty and stress makes for healthier adjustment, as does cultivating positive emotions such as gratitude.