Processes of Emotional Meaning and Response Coordination
© Oxford University Press 2014. All rights reserved. When and how are meaning processes involved in unfolding emotions? This chapter evaluates answers to this question provided by contemporary psychological theory, distinguishing approaches that see emotions as meanings attached to behavioural episodes after the fact, as responses to prior meanings extracted from personenvironment transactions, and as actions that serve to communicate meanings to others. A fourth alternative is to see meaning as emergent rather than integrative, coordinative, or intended. Emotions are not only determinate responses to separately defined meanings or communicative acts driven by internal goals, but also situated adjustments to unfolding events and active ways of transforming or producing meaning in collaboration with other people. Further, emotional meaning can be seen as an activity performed by interactants rather than an integrated piece of cognitive content (a thought or mental representation). In emotion, "meaning" should be read as verb as well as noun.