Basic Emotions, Natural Kinds, Emotion Schemas, and a New Paradigm

Perspect Psychol Sci. 2007 Sep;2(3):260-80. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-6916.2007.00044.x.


Research on emotion flourishes in many disciplines and specialties, yet experts cannot agree on its definition. Theorists and researchers use the term emotion in ways that imply different processes and meanings. Debate continues about the nature of emotions, their functions, their relations to broad affective dimensions, the processes that activate them, and their role in our daily activities and pursuits. I will address these issues here, specifically in terms of basic emotions as natural kinds, the nature of emotion schemas, the development of emotion-cognition relations that lead to emotion schemas, and discrete emotions in relation to affective dimensions. Finally, I propose a new paradigm that assumes continual emotion as a factor in organizing consciousness and as an influence on mind and behavior. The evidence reviewed suggests that a theory that builds on concepts of both basic emotions and emotion schemas provides a viable research tool and is compatible with more holistic or dimensional approaches.