Toward a working definition of emotion

Emotion Review 4 (4):345-357 (2012)
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A definition of emotion common to the affective sciences is an urgent desideratum. Lack of such a definition is a constant source of numerous misunderstandings and a series of mostly fruitless debates. There is little hope that there ever will be agreement on a common definition of emotion, given the sacred traditions of the disciplines involved and the egos of the scholars working in these disciplines. Our aim here is more modest. We propose a list of elements for a working definition of emotion and discuss the justification for the inclusion of elements from our respective perspectives. This working partial definition may at least serve as a litmus test to examine theories of emotion, old and new, across disciplinary boundaries



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Kevin Mulligan
Università della Svizzera Italiana