In Search of the “Hot” Cognitions: Attributions, Appraisals, and Their Relation to Emotion

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Abstract

Two studies examined the hypothesized status of appraisals, relative to attributions, as proximal antecedents of emotion. In Study 1, which looked at 6 emotions (happiness, hope–challenge, anger, guilt, fear–anxiety, and sadness), undergraduates (N = 136) reported on their attributions, appraisals, and emotions during past encounters associated with a variety of situations. In Study 2, which was focused on anger and guilt, undergraduates (N = 120) reported on these same variables in response to experimenter-supplied vignettes that systematically manipulated theoretically relevant attributions. The results of both studies indicated that the emotions were more directly related to appraisals than they were to attributions, and Study 2 provided evidence that appraisal serves as a mediator between attribution and emotional response. These findings lend support to the hypothesized status of appraisal as the most proximal cognitive antecedent of emotion.

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