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Review of "Handbook of Emotions"

By Michael Lewis and Jeanette M. Haviland-Jones (Editors)
Guilford Press, 2000
Review by Sam Brown, M.A. M.Phil. on Jul 10th 2004
Handbook of Emotions

The Handbook of Emotions is a stimulating and informative resource. As a comprehensive and authoritative guide to the study of emotions, it is in a league without peers.

Running to 720 pages, with 43 contributed chapters, this weighty tome crams in a well-balanced selection of summaries covering some of the most influential theories in emotion research. Introductory synopses are on offer from the fields of philosophy, history, psychology, aesthetics, neuroscience, anthropology, sociology, linguistics, developmental psychology, psychophysiology, and more. Most of the contributions come from eminent figures in each field, who deftly manage to combine comprehensiveness with comprehensibility, introducing their specialist topics to non-specialists before reporting on some of the latest findings. No other book on emotion covers so much breadth with such authority.

This second edition, emerging initially in hardback in 2000, is an extensive revision of the 1993 first edition. Each contribution has been amended to reflect recent developments in their respective fields. There are many new chapters by new authors, retitled updated chapters by retained authors,  and new authors for retained chapters with new titles. It's virtually a new book in its own right.

Lewis & Haviland-Jones had to make some tough editorial choices this time around, and they chose sagely. For example, papers from the illustrious psychologists Paul MacLean and Robert Zajonc have been dropped to make way for recent advances and hot topics. The new developments are authoritatively documented by the chief pioneers or foremost researchers. For example, Salovey, Mayer et al. are the best people to outline the nature of emotional intelligence, a construct they invented in 1990; evolutionary psychology is introduced by Cosmides & Tooby; Paul Rozin explains the character and purpose of disgust; and psychoneuroimmunology is covered by Booth & Pennebaker.

The book begins with an introductory section of accessible synopses from its major contributing disciplines - philosophy, history, linguistics, sociology, theoretical psychology, clinical psychology, biology and aesthetics. Together these confer a sense of interdisciplinary harmony while providing a broad pedagogical base for the rest of the book.

It is notable that the first four papers gesture towards social constructivism. The focus on the influence of culture and society suggests that emotions are highly programmable and socially configured. This view contrasts with the biologically-inspired papers that follow soon after. Yet the contrast is enriching and rewarding; there is no dogmatic squabbling between paradigms. Thankfully the contributors have—unusually for a work in this area—refrained from banging a drum or attacking rival projects.

Significantly, the second edition reflects changing trends in the years since the first edition. It includes new sections on Developmental Changes, Cognitive Factors, and Health and Emotions.

There are few obvious omissions in this comprehensive and ambitious book. From a healthcare perspective, the greatest surprise is the neglect of therapeutic theories or practices. Psychoanalytic theory is not discussed in much detail (though Freud is cited frequently in vague support of other arguments), and no effort is made to relate the outlines of cognitive theories to the therapeutic literature. There is hardly any mention of life skills or strategies for improving emotional competencies, and as a result the book conveys an uncomfortably fatalistic impression of emotional destiny.

One might have anticipated a more detailed account of the existentialist theory, with its emphasis on personal choice in emotional reactions, but oddly even Solomon declines to elaborate his own brand here. There is also no sign of the burgeoning subdiscipline of affective computing, which models emotion processing in expert systems and agent architectures, and designs interfaces to co-operate with users' emotions. These developments and applications of emotion theory might be more consonant than some of the eclectic choices in the present collection.

Each chapter is self-contained, complete with its own framework for understanding emotion, and can be read in isolation. Inevitably there are glosses that may rankle specialists, but in the main the loss of detail is tolerable for the sake of brevity. As the theorists each set out their stalls, there is frequent reiteration of arguments about biological functions and evolutionary pressures, the role of cognitive appraisals, and the research bias towards extreme or negative emotions. But this book is not intended to be read like a novel. Some degree of repetition is unavoidable.

The scientific nature of this collection gives it a strongly reductionist theme which could have been balanced by the inclusion of more holistic views. For example, contributors might have explored the contemporary concept of emotional "closure" with reference to, for example, cycles of experience in Gestalt psychology, or the notion of spiritual harmony in Buddhist thought.

Some of the technical reports of empirical studies seem a little out of place in a handbook, much as they would in a textbook or encyclopedia. One would expect them to be published in an empirical journal and summarized with a citation here.

The book is well indexed, with separate author and subject indices. An individual bibliography is included at the end of each chapter. There has also been a welcome improvement in typescript. The first edition used an antiquated font that made the text appear decades out of date. The modern appearance of this version is more in tune with its contemporary content.

The synopses on offer here are suitable for novices and specialists alike. The Handbook of Emotions would be a worthwhile investment for any psychologist. For professionals specializing in emotion it is equally useful as an authoritative reference work, a foundation text for a graduate course, and a source of inspiration for novel research projects.



I. Interdisciplinary Foundations

Ch.1: The Philosophy of Emotions, Robert Solomon, (pp.3-15)

Ch.2: History of Emotions: Issues of Change and Impact, Peter Stearns, (pp.16-29)

Ch.3: Representing Emotional Meaning: Category, Metaphor, Schema, Discourse, Geoffrey White, (pp.30-44)

Ch.4: Social Models in the Explanation of Emotions, Theodore Kemper, (pp.45-58)

Ch.5: The Psychologist's Point of View, Nico Frijda, (pp.59-74)

Ch.6: Emotion and Clinical Depression: An Environmental View, George Brown, (pp.75-90)

Ch.7: Evolutionary Psychology and the Emotions, Leda Cosmides and John Tooby, (pp.91-115)

Ch.8: Emotion, Art, and the Humanities, Ed Tan, (pp.116-134)


II. Biological and Neurophysiological Approaches to Emotion

Ch.9: Emotions as Natural Kinds within the Mammalian Brain, Jaak Panksepp, (pp.137-156)

Ch.10: Emotional Networks in the Brain, Joseph LeDoux and Elizabeth Phelps, (pp.157-172)

Ch.11: The Psychophysiology of Emotion, John T. Cacioppo, Gary G. Berntson, Jeff, T. Larsen, Kirsten M. Poehlmann and Tiffany A. Ito, (pp.173-191)

Ch.12: Emotion and Behavior Genetics, Richard Rende, (pp.192-202)

Ch.13: Multiple-Measure Approaches to the Study of Infant Emotion, Nathan Fox and Susan Calkins, (pp.203-219)

Ch.14: Vocal Communication of Emotion, Tom Johnstone and Klaus Scherer, (pp.220-235)

Ch.15: Facial Expression of Emotion, Dacher Keltner and Paul Ekman, (pp.236-249)


III. Developmental Changes

Ch.16: Motivational, Organizational, and Regulatory Functions of Discrete Emotions, Carroll Izard and Brian Ackerman, (pp.253-264)

Ch.17: The Emergence of Human Emotions, Michael Lewis, (pp.265-280)

Ch.18: Understanding Emotion, Paul Harris, (pp.281-292)

Ch.19: Emotion and Identity, Jeannette Haviland-Jones and Patricia Kahlbaugh, (pp.293-305)

Ch.20: The Social Context of Emotional Development, Carolyn Saarni, (pp.306-322)


IV. Social/Personality Issues

Ch.21: Subjective Emotional Well-Being, Ed Diener and Richard Lucas, (pp.325-337)

Ch.22: Gender, Emotion, and Expression, Leslie Brody and Judith Hall, (pp.338-349)

Ch.23: The Effects of Mood on Social Judgment and Reasoning, Joseph Forgas and Patrick Vargas, (pp.350-367)

Ch.24: Emotion Expression in Groups, Ursula Hess and Gilles Kirouac, (pp.368-381)

Ch.25: Temperament as an Emotion Construct: Theoretical and Practical Issues, John Bates, (pp.382-396)

Ch.26: The Cultural Psychology of the Emotions: Ancient and New, Richard Shweder and Jonathan Haidt, (pp.397-414)


V. Cognitive Factors

Ch.27: Positive Affect and Decision Making, Alice Isen, (pp.417-435)

Ch.28: A Goal Appraisal Theory of Emotional Understanding: Implications for Development and Learning, Nancy Stein, Tom Trabasso and Maria Liwag, (pp.436-457)

Ch.29: Cognitive and Social Construction in Emotion, Philip Johnson-Laird and Keith Oatley, (pp.458-475)

Ch.30: Emotion and Memory, W. Parrott and Matthew Spackman, (pp.476-490)

Ch.31: Emotion Concepts, James Russell and Ghyslaine Lemay, (pp.491-503)

Ch.32: Current Directions in Emotional Intelligence Research, Peter Salovey, Brian Bedell, Jerusha Detweiler and John Mayer, (pp.504-520)


VI. Health and Emotions

Ch.33: Emotions and Physical Illness: Causes and Indicators of Vulnerability, Howard Leventhal and Linda Patrick-Miller, (pp.523-537)

Ch.34: When Seeing Is Feeling: A Cognitive-Emotional Approach to Coping with Health Stress, Suzanne Miller and Robert Schnoll, (pp.538-557)

Ch.35: Emotions and Immunity, Roger Booth and James Pennebaker, (pp.558-570)


VII. Select Emotions

Ch.36: Fear and Anxiety: Evolutionary, Cognitive, and Clinical Perspectives, Arne Öhman, (pp.573-593)

Ch.37: The Development of Anger and Hostile Interactions, Elizabeth Lemerise and Kenneth Dodge, (pp.594-606)

Ch.38: "Sadness"—Is There Such a Thing?, Carolyn Barr-Zisowitz, (pp.607-622)

Ch.39: Self-Conscious Emotions: Embarrassment, Pride, Shame, and Guilt, Michael Lewis, (pp.623-636)

Ch.40: Disgust, Paul Rozin, Jonathan Haidt and Clark McCauley, (pp.637-653)

Ch.41: Love and Attachment Processes, Elaine Hatfield and Richard Rapson, (pp.654-662)

Ch.42: Happiness, James Averill and Thomas More, (pp.663-676)

Ch.43: Empathy and Sympathy, Nancy Eisenberg, (pp.677-691)


Whirlwind Tour of individual chapters

I. Interdisciplinary Foundations

In the first chapter, The Philosophy of Emotion, Robert Solomon traces a history of views on emotion from the ancient Greeks, via the Stoics and the Enlightenment thinkers, to the cognitive and neuroscientific theories of the modern era. His gentle introduction thankfully eschews his trademark cognitivist rhetoric, providing a firm historical context for the contemporary theories that follow.

The second chapter swerves into an unconventional literature: history. Peter Stearn emphasises how records of emotions have changed over time: perhaps reflecting differences in their social significance, their role in personal identity and even their subjective experience. It is often assumed that the nature of emotions is timeless and only our ideas and theories change. But without the sophisticated stimuli or complex social structures of today, emotional life in preceding generations may have been vastly different. How could our ancestors ever have imagined the spectacular dazzle of a cinematic epic, or the complex media-obsessed trauma of modern teenage life? It is hard to imagine. Yet modern audiences find emotional resonances in historical literature, often based on the eternal themes of desire, loss, loyalty and deception amongst others. So to what extent does the culture and the mood of the times influence our emotions? It is a very interesting question. Stearns reports on the early state of historical research and its connections to other disciplines but he does not venture a conclusion.

Next up is Geoffrey White's comprehensive summary of theories in emotion semantics and comparative linguistics. He touches on theories of semantic structure—including categories, prototypes, metaphors, and schemata—and examines the content of expressions in other cultures, such as the Cheke Holo language from the Solomon Islands. The major researchers in the area are all represented here. There is some overlap with the chapter on emotions concepts by Russell & Lemay.

The sociologist Theodore Kemper examines the communicative function of emotions, their relationship to status, the regulation of social order via pride and shame, and the pressure to control and suppress in social situations.

In The Psychologist's Point of View, Nico Frijda (pronounced Freyda) gives the most central account in the collection with a brief survey of theories of emotion and related questions in psychology. He highlights the widely acknowledged problem that a single universal research definition will be forever elusive due to the multimodal aspects and multifunctional purposes of emotions. In many respects his account echoes Solomon's earlier chapter, revealing parallel and cross-pollinating trends in philosophy and psychology.

George Brown empirical reports some empirical findings on factors influencing clinical depression, construed according to a standard cognitive appraisal theory. The focus is firmly on etiology and risk factors and there is no discussion of therapeutic interventions.

Next, Cosmides and Tooby set out their psychoevolutionary stall with a comprehensive position paper on the functional modularity of emotions. Very fine expositors they are too. This paper could serve as the main text for a reading list on the psychoevolutionary view.

Rounding off the introductory section is a seemingly incongruent paper on emotion and art, which examines the influence of emotions on the creation and evaluation of artworks and how they are represented visually. This is fascinating stuff but one wonders whether it tells us much but the nature of emotion itself.

II. Biological and Neuropsychological Approaches to Emotion

Jaak Panksepp's superbly concise and cogent summary of his position in Affective Neuroscience (1998) is a highly recommended overview of a book which many readers find daunting in its scientific detail.

Joseph LeDoux's summary of his theory of fear conditioning is similar to most of his papers on offer elsewhere, with slightly more detail on the internal structure of the amygdala and the role of the hippocampus in contextual conditioning.

Five further papers in this section examine other biological variables such as psychophysiological measurement, vocal inflection and facial expression. Richard Rende has an intriguing perspective on behaviour genetics, linking genetics with personality research.

III. Developmental Changes

The chapter by Izard and Ackerman is a concise summary of Izard's multi-threaded functional analysis known as Differential Emotions Theory.

It is followed by papers discussing the emergence of emotional capacities, the child's understanding of emotion and the role of emotions in an individual's sense of personal and social identity. Each contribution comes equipped with its own basic framework for understanding emotion.

The final paper comments on the social development of emotional norms and patterns in various cultural groups, showing the influence of social context.

IV. Social/Personality Issues

Diener & Lucas's chapter on Subjective Emotional Wellbeing provides a welcome antidote to the typical academic focus on extreme, complex or negative emotions. In general, people normally report a background of mild and reasonably pleasant emotions on a day to day basis, but these are rarely discussed; the authors aim to redress that imbalance.

A summary chapter on gender differences in emotion follows, relating some useful findings but saying little by way of surprise or controversy. Further empirical chapters examine the higher level constructs of mood and temperament. The paper on social expression suggests that our emotions are more open to influence than we normally assume.

Surprisingly, Parrott & Spackman's chapter on emotion and memory omits mention of the so-called "flashbulb memory" effect that is the mainstay of most other summaries on the same topic. The focus instead is on mood congruent and mood incongruent recall. They finish with a critical tirade against associative network theories of memory, and reductive or mechanistic models of the mind in general.

In Emotion Concepts, Russell & Lemay separate theories of the nature of emotion from theories of the concepts of emotion, arguing that most theorists conflate the two. Anyone attempting to understand emotion via conceptual analysis would do well to take account of the complexities noted in this chapter.

Salovey, Mayer and their colleagues present a succinct overview of work on emotional intelligence. They coined the expression in 1990, but were disenchanted with its portrayal in the popular media. Here they attempt to seize the construct back and restore it to its original scientific status, providing a conceptual framework for it and explaining the techniques used to measure it.

V. Emotions and Health

While this new section is undoubtedly welcome, it is unfortunately scant and incomplete. It consists of only 3 chapters, which scarcely touch on the most obvious topics: clinical depression, the emotional bases of psychosomatic or somatoform disorders, or psychotherapy and palliative care.

Levental & Patrick-Miller examine the relationship of emotions to disease, partly as causes and outcomes, but mostly as indicators of physiological resources. It is an interesting and unusual slant on the information functions of emotions.

Miller & Scholl have developed a psychometric scale to measure the effect of two different types of coping response. Here they apply it to the diagnosis of cancer and explain, by means of a general cognitive-emotional model, how the pathology of the disease is influenced by the way that people construe their illness.

Booth & Pennebaker's chapter on the immune system constitutes a handy primer for psychoneuroimmunology. If you'd like to understand what happens to your cytokine and cortisol levels when you get stressed and why it matters, this is a good starting point. The principle of teleological coherence (harmony of purpose) states that emotions and the immune system share the same ultimate goal - protecting the self - so it is not surprising they are functionally intertwined. The authors cite a range of studies indicating that emotional disclosure confers health benefits. Talking or writing about trauma is good for you, and here's the proof.

VI. Select Emotions

The distinctive emotion types examined here include fear and anxiety, anger, sadness, and happiness, and a discussion of how empathy extends our capacities to respond.

Arne Öhman is principally known for his work on unconscious processes. His chapter on fear and anxiety turns upon the idea that elicitation of emotion is not a conscious step. A simple parallel information processing architecture automatically mobilises resources and orients attention towards the perceived or imagined stimulus, priming the agent for strategic thinking. This occurs, he argues, even in the case of seemingly cognitive emotions.

Lemerise & Dodge explore different aspects of the development of anger in infants, examining how individual differences correlate with performance measures.

In "Sadness-Is there such a thing?", Carol Barr-Zisowitz notes there has been little attention to the phenomenon of sadness in comparison to, for instance, fear or depression. Surveying evidence from other cultures, particularly Lutz's work with Ifaluk islanders, she too becomes a skeptic, convinced that distress is the basic biological reality and "sadness" is a category of convenience. Her argument is interesting, if philosophically weak.

In psychological circles, the basic emotion of disgust is strongly associated with Paul Rozin, and he and his colleagues have plenty to say about it here, covering just about every possible angle from its expressive components, to its biological specificity and function, to interpersonal and moral disgust, to cultural differences and neural underpinnings.

Hatfield & Rapson lift the lid on one of life's eternal mysteries: passionate love. The rewards and costs of romance are laid bare, revealing the underlying evolutionary rationale for attachment phenomena that may strike us as absurdly irrational. This account helps to explain why needy people so often become trapped in destructive relationships.

Averrill & More's overview of Happiness focuses on the Aristotlean concept of eudaimonia, examining its biological, social and psychological mechanisms, and relating it to personality factors. This chapter adds substance to an often abstract and vague topic, and could be a solid foundation for debates in philosophical counselling.

Eisenberg's discussion of empathy and sympathy touches on the origins of the empathetic impulse and its biological basis, in a mostly inconclusive discussion of empirical results padded out with observations and truisms.


© 2004 Sam Brown


Sam Brown is currently completing a PhD on the cognitive science of emotion. He has an MA in Philosophy and an MPhil in Cognitive Science.

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