(Copyright © 2000 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
Lazarus argues that the final goal of our emotions is to help the organism
survive in the environment. His theory is a "relational" theory of emotions,
in that it assumes that emotions arise from an adaptational situation of the
individual in the environment.
Emotions are reactions to attempted goals ("motivational principle"), emotions
represent reactions to evaluations of relationships with the environment.
Stable relationships between the individual and the environment result in
recurrent emotional patterns in the individual.
Emotion is due to an evaluation of the potential consequences of a situation.
The development of the self is a fundamental event for the emotional life. Emotions depend on an organizing principle in which the self is distinguished from the non-self, because only after that principle has become established can evaluations of benefits and harms be performed. Differentiation of self and other is a fundamental property of living organisms (even plants use protein discrimination mechanisms, and most organisms could not survive without the ability to distinguish alien organisms).
An emotion is a process in four stages: anticipation, provocation, unfolding, outcome. Both biological and social variables contribute to this process, and this explains why emotions change through the various stages of life.
Each type of emotion can be defined by a relational meaning which expresses the set of benefits and harms in a relationship between individual and environment and is constructed by a process of appraisal. Each type of emotion is distinguished by a pattern of appraisal factors. The relational meaning is about the significance of the event for the well-being of the individual. Emotions express the personal meaning of an individual's experience.
Lazarus, unlike Zajonc, emphasizes cognition in the relationship between emotion and cognition. After all, appraisal is the fundamental process for the occurrence of emotion.
TM, ®, Copyright © 2005 Piero Scaruffi