Emotion is cognition: An information-processing view of the mind

Robert Oum, Debra Lieberman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

4 Scopus citations


SINCE THE time of Heraclitus in 500 BC, scholars have speculated on and investigated the role that emotions play in shaping human behavior and reasoning abilities. The number of theories of emotion generated since this time is as vast as it is varied: for example, they include David Hume's view of emotion as "master over reason" (Hume 1739), the theory that emotional feelings depend on feedback from the body (James 1884; Lange 1885), cognitive-appraisal theories (for example, Frijda 1986; Lazarus 1991; Schachter 1964; Schachter and Singer 1962), theories of basic universal emotions with associated facial expressions (Tomkins 1963; Izard 1977; Ekman and Friesen 1971), and social-constructionist theories (Averill 1980; Harré 1986; Shweder and LeVine 1984). As diverse as these perspectives are, however, nearly all draw a sharp distinction between emotion and cognition. We address this dualistic account and suggest that the common distinction between emotion and cognition is largely misleading and limits the potential for understanding emotions in general and, in particular, their role in decision making. A more comprehensive conception of emotions needs to incorporate an informationprocessing model of the mind. In this light, emotions can be viewed not as a separate domain from cognition, but rather as a subset of cognitive processes, guiding decision making and behavior in a manner that would have led to an increase in survival and reproduction in ancestral environments (Tooby and Cosmides 1990; Pinker 1997; Ketelaar 2004; Ketelaar and Clore 1997).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationDo Emotions Help or Hurt Decision Making?
Subtitle of host publicationA Hedgefoxian Perspective
PublisherRussell Sage Foundation
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781610445436
ISBN (Print)9780871548771
StatePublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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