that argues for emotion’s role in decision making.
EMA maintains that appraisal and
coping shape, but do not determine, the
agent’s response; for example, whether
an agent copes by forming the intention to act hinges on whether its planning and problem-solving processes
can identify an appropriate intention
or plan. Recall the umbrella the actress
was holding in the bird scenario. EMA
maintains the response of preparing
to whack the bird depends on the emotional response to the threat and the
fact that holding the umbrella beforehand may enable (or prime) cognition’s
formation of the intention.
At the same time, EMA also has significant shortcomings, thus identifying challenges for research on computational models, as well as underlying
theories. Most notably, EMA’s appraisal process focuses on deriving appraisal values and treats emotion categories
largely as epiphenomenal. Another
limitation follows from the inferential
processes that support appraisal by
maintaining the causal interpretation.
In particular, because the causal interpretation has limited capacity to model
the beliefs of other agents, more complex social emotions (such as embarrassment) are not modeled. The inference processes also need to impose
better constraints on coping strategies
specifically due to the absence of constraints on belief revision; the overall model allows for wishful thinking
and resignation that alters beliefs and
goals while ignoring potential effects
on related beliefs or goals; see Ito et
19 for a utility-based approach to address this limitation.
Nevertheless, both the strengths
and weaknesses of a model like EMA
support the idea of computational
modeling of emotions as a powerful
approach to addressing the question of
the processes underlying emotion and
its relation to cognition. Constructing
EMA forced us to make specific com-
mitments about the representation of
the person-environment relationship,
the computation of appraisals based
on these representations, the role of
perception, memory, interpretation,
and inference in appraisal, the mod-
eling of coping, and the relationship
among appraisals, emotions, and cop-
ing. Further, once computationally re-
turn, affects subsequent reappraisals
of the situation. Emotional meaning
thus evolves in EMA as the individual
interacts with the physical and the so-
Role in Theory Formation
As noted, the relation between emotion and rational thought is a debate of
long standing. One benefit of computational models is they are potentially
powerful research tools that weigh on
such debates by forcing explicit commitments as to how mental processes
are realized, how they interrelate, and
how the processes unfold over time.
EMA, in particular, makes an explicit commitment to the relation between emotion and an agent’s cognitive processes. Appraisal is treated as
fundamentally reactive, an automatic
assessment of the contents of mental
representations. Differences in the
temporal course of emotion dynamics are accordingly due to differences
in the temporal course of eliciting
conditions, perceptual processes,
and inferential processes that maintain the representation of the person-environment relation, including both
deliberative and reactive processes.
This allows the model to explain in
a uniform way both fast, seemingly
automatic emotion responses, and
slower, seemingly more deliberative
responses, in contrast to more complex models and theories that postulate multiple processes.
EMA assumes cognition and per-
ception encodes the personal rel-
evance of events in ways that make
appraisal simple, fast, and general,
evolving as cognitive processes up-
date the agent-environment relation-
ship. Appraisal is thus not so much a
process as it is an output requirement
on cognition and perception. The
values generated by those processes
constitute the appraisal values. Simi-
larly, we pose the inverse requirement
on coping strategies, that the output
of coping is the adjustment of atten-
tion, beliefs, desires, and intentions
on which cognition and appraisal rely.
Coping can be viewed as an inverse of
the appraisal process, seeking to ad-
just the causal interpretation in order
to alter subsequent appraisals.
These design commitments follow
from our effort to address key challenges for any model of emotion. One
such challenge is to explain the often
rapid, seemingly reactive, dynamics of
emotional process, as outlined in the
bird example, that have been raised as
a challenge to appraisal theories.
40 Another challenge is that emotions arise
and evolve over a wide range of eliciting situations, from physical events to
complex social situations.
In EMA, the generality of appraisal
to address complex social interactions, as well as the demands of physical threats, is due largely to appraisal’s
separation from a range of perceptual
and cognitive processes it leverages.
EMA also generalizes the role of emotion in an agent’s overall architecture.
In EMA, appraisal and coping play a
central role in mediating response for
the agent generally. This role is in keeping with Simon’s view35 of emotion as
an interrupt mechanism and research4
Figure 3. Virtual human accident scene (USC Institute for Creative Technologies).