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Open Access Publications from the University of California

On the Nature of Emotion

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When James (1890) enlarged on his theory of emotion he bemoaned the descriptive nature of psychological works on emotion and wrote "They give one nowhere a central point of view, or a deductive or generative principle." (p. 448 of 1950 Dover reprint). Output of theories after James'publication remained high and continued into the 1930's (see bibliographyby Raines, 1929, 1930, 1931; and historical reviews by Gardiner, Metcalf, & Beebe-Center, 1937; and Hillman, 1960). Then, although theories continued to appear, general interest in emotion flagged and in psychology textbooks the subject was relegated to chapters on motivation. Interest revived in the 1970's and is now high again. In a textbookon emotion Strongman (1973) gave vignettes of about thirty of the better known theories all post-dating James. More appeared by 1980 (Plutchik,1980; Plutchik & Kellerman, 1980; and a bibliography by Rorty, 1980) and this continued unabated in the 80's. Many of these theories are very well known and are examined in the reviews cited. It is neither possible nor necessary to review yet again so many theories if the present one is to be stated, developed and its implications explored. Similarly, the data or phenomena of emotion are too familiar to require detailed presentation here and instead sources of relevant descriptions will be cited. In citing both theoretical and data sources I have tried to use the earliest references since I believe they should be given priority over more recent sources that are essentially saying the same thing but in different terminology or in more elaborate detail. Current sources are given where they are fundamentally or significantly "new."

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