Psychology of Appraisal: Emotions and Decision‐Making

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The relation of appraisal tendencies to decision-making has been recognized by many scientists, thus, yielding the need for thorough research. In other words, emotions and an individual’s feelings are able to change one’s judgment, perception, and especially behavior. Overall, a clear understanding of emotional appraisals is crucial to research their effect on the decision-making process, which influences human behavior and judgment.

To begin with, the underlying concepts of decision-making are strongly connected to the emotions and feelings that an individual experiences. That is why Jane So et al.’s research focuses on the nature of emotions to understand its linkage to behavior aspects clearly. To be more exact, an individual’s responses reflect one’s “social and physical surroundings” along with “internal thoughts”; hence, their deconstruction as “a function of several information-rich associations” separates them into emotional appraisals (So et al., 2015, p. 360). In addition, So et al. (2015) suggest that the appraisals, as mentioned earlier, are linked to six core dimensions, which allows their clearer research to understand their influence on human mentality. The study identifies a primary core set of emotional responses that include the following: “pleasantness, certainty, perceived controllability, attentional activity, anticipated effort, and agency” (So et al., 2015, p. 360). Naturally, every emotional response is related to a situation or event that an individual reflects on, which further shapes one’s perception, judgment, and behavior.

Therefore, the thorough recognition of the six core dimensions that influence emotional appraisals seems crucial for further understanding their influence on human psychology. So et al. (2015) identify the pleasantness of an event as “valence of the emotion-eliciting event”; while certainty signals an individual’s confidence about a particular situation (p. 360). Furthermore, one of the core dimensions, perceived controllability, implies a person’s feeling of control or lack thereof over the case, whereas attentional activity shows the effort put into being thoughtful about an event (So et al., 2015). The last two types of emotional appraisals, anticipated effort and agency, define an individual’s motivation to participate in the event and recognize the situation’s cause, respectively (So et al., 2015). By and whole, the explanation of the six core elements of emotional appraisals provides a clear perception of how each of them may influence human behavior or judgment.

Undoubtedly, every emotion is related to the six core dimensions to some extent, which allows researchers to broaden their understanding of their influence on decision-making processes. Thus, So et al. (2015) outline the framework of their study to recognize the nature of both notions, emotional appraisals and decision making, to understand how they are interconnected. However, the researchers also focus on finding the connection between emotional appraisals to comprehend how they can participate in forming a singular response to a situation (So et al., 2015). Therefore, the primary independent variables of the study are the relation of valency to the agency, motivational orientation, and avoidance; hence, the dependant variables are human behavior, judgment, and perception (So et al., 2015). By and whole, the research of the interaction between appraisals poses a question of whether there are additional appraisals that may influence the emotion formation and, consequently, an individual’s mental response to them.

The next stage of the study investigates the nature of decision-making and how different core-dimension emotions are likely to impact them. So et al. (2015) define the strong interconnection between the type of response to an individual’s behavior in a particular situation. In other words, emotional appraisals provide information that affects human judgment, meaning that the perception of “the same object under the influence of different emotions” can be dissimilar (So et al., 2015, p. 366). Moreover, emotions can also influence an individual’s judgment in the form of “activating distinct coping strategies, priming different goals, or promoting different modes of information processing” (So et al., 2015, p. 367). Still, an individual’s response to the situation may be altered by the self-regulation that is, naturally, influenced by emotional appraisals, leading to setting distinct goals due to a different perception of the same event.

Undoubtedly, the impact of emotions on the outcomes of the situation is enormous, considering that it may also impact an individual’s motivation to behave in a particular way. So et al. (2015) also identify the three motives that may affect the information-processing based on the emotional influence: “an accuracy motive, defense motive, and impression motive” (p. 368). To be more exact, an individual may require more accuracy concerning the retrieved motivation to continue forming a response to it. Nevertheless, sometimes a defensive mechanism may lead to a person rejecting information without reacting to it. That is why the reaction to the situation may be triggered by different motives or even the activation of the individual mindsets to decide whether to accept or reject information.

Overall, it has been concluded that emotional appraisals strongly impact judgment by providing motivations, information, and mindsets. So et al. (2015) suggest the need for further research to separate each core dimensions that form emotional responses to situations in order to understand how each can impact human behavior. In addition, as emotions are complex and influence every individual differently, it is vital to investigate the richness of emotional appraisals as a variety and not singularly (So et al., 2015). The most significant conclusion of the study is that the appraisals should be researched together, considering that all six core dimensions contribute to the formation of response to different extents (So et al., 2015). By and large, it is evident that this research is a solid foundation for further studies that can elaborate on additional appraisals that participate in decision-making processes, perception, judgment, and behavior.

Having analyzed this research about the impact of emotional appraisals on human behavior, it seems fair to conclude that it investigates basics, providing the detail for the psychologists to elaborate on in the future. The first part of the paper provides the reader with detailed information on the nature of emotions and decision-making, contributing to a basic understanding of both notions. It is essential to educate users on the primary aspects of the study so that they can comprehend the outcomes of the research to the full extent, and So et al. have successfully accomplished it. Overall, the paper provides the information not only for competent psychologists but for the students that can expand their knowledge of human psychology.

Undoubtedly, the study is wholesome and coherent, considering that it provides numerous examples concerning each emotional appraisal and individual mental processes that they can impact. To be more particular, the authors include real-life examples that are easy to understand for every reader. So et al. (2015) also summarize the findings based on the analysis of emotional responses and how they influence human behavior. The outcomes are not biased and are supported by the data and basics of human psychology that are constantly presented throughout the paper.

Naturally, this research can be easily called relevant as it poses questions and suggestions for further investigation throughout the whole paper. The authors clearly present the need for a more thorough analysis of emotional appraisals and how different their impact may be on people based on the situation they experience. Furthermore, the results of the research not only summarize the primary findings of the study but also include the direction for scientists to explore. Overall, the underresearched aspects of the study can be developed further to advance the field of psychology that focuses on the connection between emotions and human behavior.

To sum up, the study is crucial in the field of cognitive psychology as it clearly presents the need for further investigation of the emotional appraisals and the impact of their combination on human mental processes. Furthermore, the findings of the study can be used to expand knowledge on the topic and investigate the other aspects that may influence human behavior, perception, judgment, and, most importantly, decision-making processes. The united impact of emotional appraisals can be analyzed to recognize the complexity of an individual’s mental processes and how they contribute to the reactions to different situations. Moreover, the authors estimate the possibility of novel appraisals that can also participate in forming an individual’s response to various experiences. As a result, the research results also present the need to investigate the interconnection between impacted decision-making processes on judgments.


So, J., Achar, C., Han, D., Agrawal, N., Duhachek, A., & Maheswaran, D. (2015). The psychology of appraisal: Specific emotions and decision‐making. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 25(3), 359–371. Web.

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PsychologyWriting. "Psychology of Appraisal: Emotions and Decision‐Making." November 25, 2022.