An appraisal is when you assess something. People make appraisals or assessments of emotion all of the time, however they aren't aware most of the time that they are doing this. How much someone cares about an emotional stimulus is something that is probably thought about frequently during the experience. If you think about it people frequently are going to naturally analyze what is going on in every situation they are in and think about what the emotions occurring are.
I said in the previous paragraph that people make appraisals of emotional things but they aren't aware of themselves doing that. How is that possible or what does that mean exactly? If people care about emotion, which they clearly do, then they are going to want to know what is going on in the situations they encounter in life. So clearly people make assessments of how much emotion the things around them are generating, the only question is can they do this in a way that is beneath their awareness.
People surely must make assessments since they often work on inducing or inhibiting feelings in order to make them "appropriate" to a situation. If you are going to be changing feeling, then obviously you are going to need to measure and assess it first. Sometimes people think this process through consciously, and sometimes they don't.
It makes sense to me that people are going to "know" how valuable certain things in their environment are. This is clear when you realize that people focus on some things very quickly - such a thing would clearly be something of interest to that person or something that generates emotion - which would make it interesting.
So you could say that a person whose attention gets alerted to something around them made an assessment about the stimulus or responded to it, the stimulus (the thing in their environment they paid sharp attention to) was clearly emotional for them. It could have generated any feeling - disgust, surprise, happiness, - or maybe an intellectual reaction such as 'that person has a bright coat'.
Does that mean that the person assessed if the bright coat generated emotion for them? What would it mean if it generated emotion? Could they respond in a fast way without being interested? Someone could respond quickly to something and not be in a mood that is very caring at that time, in which case maybe little emotion was involved. However if someone was interested in something then it makes sense that it is going to cause them to have feelings.
Is something someone is interested in going to cause them to have deep emotions or shallow feelings? What types of stimuli result in deep or shallow feelings? Just because something generates more emotion for you doesn't necessarily mean that it is going to cause you to respond to it faster or you would be more interested in it. Maybe your interest is more intellectual or maybe you are interested or responding to it quickly because you have to.
Under what circumstances do people care more about feelings? This relates to appraisals - if you care about something then you are going to make more assessments during the experience about how much emotion is being generated probably. People can care more about feelings but that doesn't mean that they are aware that they care more during that time. This is similar to people going into modes where they are seeking pleasure. My theory here is that people have levels of desire and need that fluctuate constantly.
This means that there are many different levels someone can experience an emotion or feeling. It is more complicated than simply saying that the feeling has a certain strength - each feeling or emotion is going to have a unique nature, represent unique ideas and objects, and have a unique significance on your psyche.
Maybe you can say that there are shallow feelings and deep emotions, and that there are certain properties that shallow feelings have and certain properties that deep feelings have. For instance you probably care more about deep feelings (unless the feeling is negative) and therefore they probably cause you to have a faster reaction time. However if the feeling is deep, sappy, and emotional then maybe your reaction time is slower because the emotion is weighing you down.
This relates to the 'emotions and feelings and the difference between them' section above because I am outlining further that deep feelings/emotions or shallow feelings/emotions are different and things happen to humans differently with each one. It shows that clearly emotion can make someone be different physically, as when you are motivated by emotion you often move faster.
This is just bringing up ideas of depth - some feelings are simple and some are complex - that is obvious, however I think people could notice a lot more if they grouped their emotions into a categories of strength and shallowness or depth and how they responded differently to each different category. - Also the person should note what the interest was, the reaction time, the negative or positive valence of the emotion.
Goffman suggests that we spend a good deal of effort on managing impressions - that is, acting. Your impression of other people makes you feel in different ways, and you try to manage this in a social situation. So therefore all of your strong feelings you try to influence by thinking about what caused those feelings - such as your impressions - and how you can change them.
So people are basically "emotion-managers", constantly thinking about their feelings and what caused them and how they can change them. Whenever you change an impression of someone, you are also changing your feelings. When you think about your own feelings you are changing them because you are changing how much you care about them. You set goals for yourself about your own feelings - 'if I do this I am going to become happy'.
When you think about your feelings you can make insignificant feelings large or large feelings small. When a feeling is small, you could say that it is more unconscious or beneath your awareness. Something (including yourself) could trigger this small feeling and it could emerge into something you feel more closely and more consciously.
So the question is, what circumstances and what type of thinking warrant that feeling of 'that sort'.
We assess the 'appropriateness' of a feeling by making a comparison between the feeling and the situation. We also have goals for how we want to feel that we don't know we are thinking, and we have goals for how we want to act as well. Is there a 'natural attitude' or a natural way of behaving and thinking? Not really - especially when you consider that you are unconsciously constantly creating goals, drives, thoughts and behaviors that are not fully under your control.
- In secondary reactive emotions, the person reacts against his or her initial primary adaptive emotion, so that it is replaced with a secondary emotion. This "reaction to the reaction" obscures or transforms the original emotion and leads to actions that are not entirely appropriate to the current situation. For example, a man that encounters danger and begins to feel fear may feel that fear is not "manly." He may then either become angry at the danger (externally focused reaction) or angry with himself for being afraid (self-focused reaction), even when the angry behavior actually increases the danger. Listening to this reaction, someone is likely to have the sense that "something else is going on here" or "there's more to this than just anger." The experience is something like hearing two different melodies being played at the same time in a piece of music, one the main melody and the other the background or counterpart.
- Secondary emotions often arise from attempts to judge and control primary responses.
- Thus, anxiety may come from trying to avoid feeling angry or sexually excited, or it may arise from guilt about having felt these emotions.
When someone rejects what they are truly feeling, they are likely to feel bad about themselves. Feeling or expressing one emotion to mask the primary emotion is a metaemotional process. Feelings about emotions need to be acknowledged and then explored to get at the underlying primary emotion.
Experiential therapists see clients emotional processing as occurring on a continuum with five phases (Kennedy-Moore + Watson, 1999 1 ):
- prereflective reaction to an emotion-eliciting stimulus entailing perception of the stimulus, preconscious cognitive and emotional processing, and accompanying physiological changes
- conscious awareness and perception of the reaction
- labeling and interpretation of the affective response; people typically draw upon internal as well as situational cues to label their responses
- evaluation of whether the response is acceptable or not
- evaluation of the current context in terms of whether it is possible or desirable to reveal one's feelings.
What role does the emotion 'interest' play in emotional responses? It is a baseline emotion of great importance - the action tendency of interest involves intending, orienting, and exploring. Interest is felt very frequently, probably without being noticed. If you think about it, to some degree interest is going to be present with each reaction to stimuli. With every response someone has, they are interested to some degree. You can look at interest further when you consider secondary emotional responses - what was the interest that came from the response that had some other type of interest?
Through each stage of evaluation of a response, or simple evaluations that aren't a response to things, there is interest involved as well. This 'interest' induces caring, and the interest and caring is going to change your emotions - emotions are going to be brought up, intensified, changed based off of your interest or caring or evaluations. When you think and make evaluations, you change the nature and intensity of the emotions that are related to what you are doing or processing.
Are people going to be more interested in clear, primary emotions or feelings that they aren't in touch with? When someone is interested in a feeling, how is that different from being interested in the source of the feeling? If someone is feeling sad, they might not care about the sadness if the feeling is unclear to them or they don't know they are sad. If someone is going to try to change a feeling of sadness, it clearly would be beneficial if they knew when the feeling is occurring.
Is it possible to experience deep emotions without being aware at all that these emotions are occurring? Yes it is, but there are times when people are conscious of those emotions - say when they are recalling them - that the deep emotions are more clear. There could be a deep emotion that occurs over a long period of time - say anger at someone, this anger could be in your body for a long time, during being the person, or while away from the person; the point is the anger is reflected upon or it occurs more deeply at certain points - and then you are going to be aware of the emotion.
That anger is a significant, primary feeling. The feeling is significant because it shows how large the emotion is that is behind it. People can feel feelings that are shallow or intense at the time, but these feelings don't necessarily mean more than that or are deeper than that because they aren't deep or primary - they don't mean anything else or occur at other times you aren't aware of (indicating that this feeling is significant). The feeling of shallow feelings is still potent (because you are feeling them in real time), but they aren't as powerful as feelings that have a special meaning or significance for you (which would make you feel deeper in real time and feel more effected).
If you think about it, people change their feelings by thinking all of the time. The way they could help manage this is probably by making assessments of their emotional state. If people think about what just made them happy or sad, then they might be able to do something or think something to change that. Some emotional responses are going to be more noticeable, and that is when people might try to figure out what went on.
There are subtleties of emotion as well. People probably respond in many ways that they aren't aware of consciously, but they might have responded because something beneath their notice occurred emotionally. You could say that the emotional world beneath your notice is the "unconscious" mind or the unconscious world.
Your emotions change all of the time, only sometimes are you going to notice when an emotion changes or when you are experiencing one. Furthermore, you might want or expect to experience one emotion but you are actually experiencing a different one because unconsciously that is how you are responding. For instance, maybe you have an unconscious bias against a group of people so you feel hate when you interact with them, but you consciously think that you like those people and feel like you should be happy and positive towards them. A feeling might be important to your unconscious mind, or a feeling might be important to your conscious mind - in which case you would probably 'care' about it.
Your attention is constantly divided between various things in your environment, your own internal thinking and your own emotions. Your emotions are going to determine and assist what you pay attention to. For instance, if something is emotional in your environment for you, then more of your attention is probably going to spent thinking about or focusing on that thing.
Or maybe something in your environment is just more interesting than something else, the point is something in your environment or something in your head (emotions, thoughts) caused an intellectual or emotional reaction in you, and that then caused you to pay more attention to it. That doesn't mean that you notice it more after you pay attention - this type of paying attention might be unconscious - i.e. - more of your attentional resources or just more of the focus that people have (not all of which they are aware of) is going to be directed at it.