Figure 182

The Schematic Propositional Associative and Analogical Representational Systems by Power and Dalgleish (1997).

Power and Dalgleish (1997) put forward a Schematic Propositional Associative and Analogical Representational Systems (SPAARS) approach, which is shown in Figure 18.2. The various components of the model are as follows:

• Analogical system: this is involved in basic sensory processing of environmental stimuli.

• Propositional system: this is an essentially emotion-free system which contains information about the world and about the self.

• Schematic system: within this system, facts from the propositional system are combined with information about the individual's current goals to produce an internal model of the situation. This will lead to an emotional response if the current goals are being thwarted.

• Associative system: its workings were described by Dalgleish (1998, p. 492): "If the same event is repeatedly processed in the same way at the schematic level, then an associative representation will be formed such that, on future encounters of the same event, the relevant emotion will be automatically elicited."

The SPAARS approach has some relevance to the Zajonc-Lazarus debate. According to Power and Dalgleish (1998), there are two main ways in which emotion can occur. First, it can occur as a result of thorough cognitive processing when the schematic system is involved. Second, it occurs automatically and without the involvement of conscious processing when the associative system is involved.

How does the schematic system use information about current goals to decide on the precise emotion that is appropriate in a given situation? Power and Dalgleish (1997) made use of an earlier theory of Oatley and Johnson-Laird (1987), according to which there are five basic emotions. Each of these emotions occurs at a key juncture with respect to a current goal or plan:

1. Happiness: progress has been made on a current goal.

2. Anxiety: the goal of self-preservation is threatened.

3. Sadness: the current goal cannot be achieved.

5. Disgust:

the current goal is frustrated or blocked. a gustatory [taste] goal is violated.

There is reasonable evidence from cross-cultural studies of facial expressions of emotion, emotional development in children, and so on that these are indeed the five most basic emotions (see Power & Dalgleish, 1997). Complex emotions involve different combinations of these basic emotions.

Multi-level theories of emotion have the advantage that they can provide explanations for emotional conflict. For example, individuals with spider phobia become very frightened when they see a spider even though they may "know" that most spiders are harmless. LeDoux could explain this conflict by assuming that the fear is produced by the fast-acting system, whereas the conflicting knowledge is produced by the slow-acting system. In the SPAARS approach, fear could be generated by the associative system, and the conflicting knowledge could come from the propositional and schematic systems.

We have seen that there may well be five basic emotions. However, theory and research on emotional processing have focused mainly on anxiety and depression, with some attention being paid to happiness, and practically none to anger and disgust. This imbalance is reflected in our discussion of emotional processing.

Some theories of emotional processing have focused on the effects of mood on emotional processing, whereas others deal with the effects of personality on emotional processing. However, there is overlap between the two types of theory. For example, we might want to consider the influence of trait anxiety (a personality dimension related to individual differences in susceptibility to anxiety). If we carry out a study, then those participants who are high in trait anxiety will probably be in a more anxious mood state than those low in trait anxiety. In such a case, it is hard to disentangle the effects of personality from those of mood.

In this section, we consider theories put forward by Bower (1981), by Beck (1976), and by Williams, Watts, MacLeod, and Mathews (1988, 1997). Bower's network theory has been influential within the area of mood and emotional processing, Beck's schema theory has dominated research on personality and emotional processing, and the theory of Williams et al. builds on these earlier theories.

Some of the key features of the network theory proposed by Bower and his associates (e.g., Bower, 1981; Gilligan & Bower, 1984) are shown in Figure 18.3. The theory as expressed by Gilligan and Bower (1984) makes six assumptions:

• Emotions are units or nodes in a semantic network, with numerous connections to related ideas, to physiological systems, to events, and to muscular and expressive patterns.

• Emotional material is stored in the semantic network in the form of propositions or assertions.

• Thought occurs via the activation of nodes within the semantic network.

• Nodes can be activated by external or by internal stimuli.


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