Seven studies assessed the relation between lay theories of emotion (“threat” and “benefit” appraisal) and cognitions and behaviors in positive and negative emotional episodes. Studies 1 and 2 examined such a relation via the assessment of the habitual cognitions and behaviors persons evince in negative (Study 1) and positive emotional states. Studies 3 through 7 assessed whether and how appraisals of emotion affect some frequently observed cognitive-behavioral consequences of positive and negative affect induction, such as self-focused off-task cognitions, causal attribution, helping behavior, optimism, and creativity. Threat appraisal of emotion was related to negative self-evaluation, off-task cognitions, pessimism, and passivity during negative emotions, and to causal search during positive emotions. Benefit appraisal was related to active coping with, and emotional expressiveness of negative emotions and to the generalization of positive emotions to other behavioral-cognitive areas (altruism, optimism, creativity). The results are discussed in terms of a goal approach to emotion and personality.
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© 1997 SAGE Publications.