11-01a+Zajonc+1984 - On the Primacy of Affect R B Zajonc...

Info icon This preview shows pages 1–2. Sign up to view the full content.

On the Primacy of Affect R. B. Zajonc University of Michigan ABSTRACT: Lazarus has challenged the view that there are circumstances under which affect precedes cognition and that affective arousal that does not entail prior cognitive appraisal exists. His argument, how- ever, is based entirely on an arbitrary definition of emotion that requires cognitive appraisal as a nec- essary precondition. To satisfy this concept of emotion, Lazarus has broadened the definition of cognitive ap- praisal to include even the most primitive forms of sensory excitation, thus obliterating all distinction be- tween cognition, sensation, and perception. No em- pirical evidence is offered to document the principle of cognitive appraisal as a necessary precondition for emotional arousal. The contrasting view of an affective primacy and independence, however, is derived from a series of findings and phenomena, including the existence of neuroanatomical structures allowing for independent affective process. Only a few years ago I published a rather speculative article entitled "Feeling and Thinking" (Zajonc, 1980). The title also included the provocative subtitle "Preferences Need No Inferences," deliberately sug- gesting an occasional independence of emotion from cognition. In this article I tried to appeal for a more concentrated study of affective phenomena that have been ignored for decades, and at the same time to ease the heavy reliance on cognitive functions for the explanation of affect. The argument began with the general hypothesis that affect and cognition are separate and partially independent systems and that although they ordinarily function conjointly, affect could be generated without a prior cognitive process. It could, therefore, at times precede cognition in a behavioral chain, I based this proposition on a number of diverse findings and phe- nomena, none of which alone could clinch the ar- gument, but all of which taken together pointed to a clear possibility of an affective independence and primacy. This idea was first advanced by Wundt (1907) and later reiterated by others (e.g., Izard, 1984). Lazarus (1982) takes a very strong issue with all of this and almost categorically rejects the likelihood of the independence of affect of cognition, let alone the possibility of an affective primacy. In this article I will review Lazarus's position and contrast it with mine. Lazarus employs two definitions, one for emo- tion and one for cognition. All of his inferences are based on these two definitions. Lazarus's definition of emotion (which requires cognition as a necessary precondition) is central to his position. On the basis of this definition alone, therefore, the argument is unassailable. If Lazarus insists on his definition, as he has the right to do, we must agree that affect cannot be independent of cognition because by definition cognition is a necessary precondition for affective arousal.
Image of page 1

Info icon This preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

Image of page 2
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.
  • Fall '10
  • SusanCharles
  • Psychology, Cognitive Appraisal, American Psychologist

{[ snackBarMessage ]}

What students are saying

  • Left Quote Icon

    As a current student on this bumpy collegiate pathway, I stumbled upon Course Hero, where I can find study resources for nearly all my courses, get online help from tutors 24/7, and even share my old projects, papers, and lecture notes with other students.

    Student Picture

    Kiran Temple University Fox School of Business ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    I cannot even describe how much Course Hero helped me this summer. It’s truly become something I can always rely on and help me. In the end, I was not only able to survive summer classes, but I was able to thrive thanks to Course Hero.

    Student Picture

    Dana University of Pennsylvania ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    The ability to access any university’s resources through Course Hero proved invaluable in my case. I was behind on Tulane coursework and actually used UCLA’s materials to help me move forward and get everything together on time.

    Student Picture

    Jill Tulane University ‘16, Course Hero Intern