Theory convergence in emotion science is timely and realistic

Cogn Emot. 2022 Mar;36(2):154-170. doi: 10.1080/02699931.2021.1973378.


Over the last century, emotion research has been beset by the problem of major disagreements with respect to the definition of the phenomenon and an abundance of different theories. Arguably, these divergences have had adverse effects on theory development, on the theoretical foundations of empirical research, and on knowledge accumulation in the study of emotion. Similar problems have been encountered in other areas of behavioural science. Increasingly, there have been calls to work towards some form of theory integration. In contrast, here an effort is made to show that a reasonable degree of theory convergence in the area of emotion science can be attained by adopting a design feature-based working definition of emotion and highlighting the basic agreement on the components of the dynamic emotion process. The aim is to invite constructive discussion on communalities and divergences between different theories and foster the development of more complementary theoretical frameworks to guide future empirical research.

Keywords: Emotion theories; emotion components; emotion definition; emotion process; theory convergence.

MeSH terms

  • Emotions*
  • Empirical Research
  • Forecasting
  • Humans