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Cireumplex Models d
Personality and Emotions

Robert Plutchik & Hope R. Conte, Editors

American Psyehologieal Association
Washington, DC

Page 238

Singer’s (1973, 1974) analysis of the central link that fantasy serves
between cognition and emotion suggests further that we might at some
later date gain considerably from construction and addition of items that
measure our fourth class of impact messages-namely, fantasies and met-
aphors. Especially in the psychotherapeutic context one of the safest, least
threatening modes of interpersonal feedback from the therapist is in the
form of fantasy or metaphor-in contrast to feedback of direct feelings,
action tendencies, or perceived evoking messages (Kiesler, 1988).

The Most Important Class of Environmental Objects or Events
Appraised During Emotion Is Interpersonal-Transactional

Another growing consensus among recent emotion theorists is that a
central, if not ubiquitous, class of environmental objects or events that
trigger the human emotion sequence is social, interpersonal, and transac-

To illustrate, Averill ( 1980) detailed the necessity of understanding
the social antecedents and consequents that comprise the emotional ex-
perience. According to Averill, emotion arises from social situations (e.g.,
anger might be caused by another person blocking one’s goals) and serves
social functions (e.g., expressed anger might stop the person from blocking
one’s goals in the future). Averill (1980) emphasized,

As important as the physical setting may be for emotional behavior,
the social environment is generally even more important. Some emo-
tions, such as anger and love, typically demand some kind of response
on the part of another person. However, the importance of social cues
is not limited to emotions that involve mutual interaction between
two or more persons. Many emotional roles are like soliloquies: only
one actor is directly involved, but the response is played for and to an
audience. Laughter, for example, is much heartier in the presence of
others; embarrassment and shame do not occur in solitude; and any
parent can testify how young children often await the arrival of a
sympathetic audience before bursting into tears. (p. 3 2 3 )

Berscheid (1983) proposed a model in which emotional interdepend-
ence is a vital component of close interpersonal relationships. Emotion is
defined as autonomic arousal caused by interruptions of well-practiced,
organized action sequences, coupled with cognitive appraisal of that
arousal. In close relationships, members’ action sequences are closely
intertwined-members have frequent, strong, and diverse impacts on each
other over a long period; as a consequence they are especially capable of
interrupting each other’s well-practiced action sequences and eliciting
arousal and emotion.


Page 239

Lazarus and colleagues (Lazarus et al., 1980; Lazarus & Launier, 1978)
offer a transactional or relational principle of emotions. They have asserted
that “emotions arise out of ongoing relationships or trunsactions . . . in
which the person influences and is influenced by the environment, espe-
cially the social environment. . . . To understand any given encounter in
which there is an emotional episode, attention must be given to the chang-
ing relationship between the person and environment as the encounter pro-
ceeds” (Lazarus et al., 1980, p. 195).

The strongest transactional statement to date comes from Kemper’s
(1978) social interactional theory of emotions and is based on his propo-
sition that most human emotions result from outcomes of interaction in
social relationships. Kemper’s basic argument is that “events in the social
environment instigate emotions. The most important events are the on-
going or changing patterns of social relations between actors” (Kemper,
1978, p. 26). “I do not claim that all emotion is of this [interpersonal]
character, nor that any given emotion results only from social relation-
ships” (p. 347). Kemper’s general hypothesis is that

A very large class of emotions results from real, imagined, or anticipated
outcomes in social relationships. To account for emotions that have a
social locus, we must be able to specify the full range of real, imagined,
and anticipated relational outcomes. (Kemper, 1978, p. 43)

Kemper presented in detail a model of relational outcomes anchored
on the two basic interpersonal dimensions, which he labels power (coercive
control of one action by another as in domination, threat, force, control,
etc.) and status (voluntary compliance and giving to others as in friendship,
support, affection, warmth, etc.). “Whether the relationship is in equilib-
rium or not, I propose that each actor is either satisfied or dissatisfied in
some degree with his own and the other’s positions on the power and status
dimensions” (Kemper, 1978, p. 49). To illustrate, (a) When Actor A ap-
praises his or her own power as adequate, A feels secure; when interpreted
as excessive, A feels guilty and anxious; when appraised as insufficient, A
feels fear. However, when B’s power is appraised by A as adequate, A feels
secure; when appraised as excessive, A feels fear; when appraised as insuf-
ficient, A feels guilt. (b) When Actor A appraises his or her own status as
adequate, A feels happy; as excessive, A feels shame; as insufficient, A feels
depressed. However, when B’s status is appraised by A as adequate, A feels
happy; when Bs status is appraised as excessive, A feels anger, contempt,
and shame; when B’s status is appraised as insufficient, A feels guilt-shame
and anxiety.

One can conclude from these brief analyses that the interpersonal
behavior of other individuals (within specific transactional episodes and
over larger periods of transactional history) forms the major, most signifi-


Page 476


Robert Plutchik, PhD, is Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Psy-
chology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and Associate Director
of the Psychiatry Department at the Bronx Municipal Hospital Center.
Earlier in his career he was involved in psychiatric research at the New
York State Psychiatric Institute. Subsequently, he was Director of Program
Development and Clinical Research at the Bronx Psychiatric Center. He
also spent several years as a Fellow at the National Institute of Mental
Health conducting brain stimulation research in primates. He has taught
at Columbia, Yeshiva, Hofstra and Long Island Universities as well as at
SUNY Purchase and the New School for Social Research. His main areas
of current interest include the study of emotions, psychotherapy, suicide
and violence.

Dr. Plutchik has served as a consultant to the National Institute of
Mental Health and to AT&T, as well as other agencies and companies. He
had lectured widely at medical schools and universities throughout the
United States and in a number of foreign countries, including New Zea-
land, China, and Japan. He is author or co-author of over 250 publications,
has written five books and coedited six books. His work on emotion is
internationally recognized. He has been invited to contribute articles on
emotion to the WorU Book Encyclopedia, the Academic American Encyclo-
pedia, Blackwell’s Encyclopedic Dictionary of Psychology, and the International
Encyclopedia of Neurology, Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis and Psychology. He is
the author of The Emotions: Facts, Theories and a New Model (Random


Page 477

House, 1962), Foundations of Experimental Research (Harper and Row,
1968), Emotion A Psychoevolutionary Synthesis (Harper and Row, 1980),
and The Psychology and Biology of Emotion (HarperCollins, 1994).

Hope R. Conte, PhD, is Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology at
the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Director of the Psychody-
namic Psychotherapy Research Fellowship Program of the Psychiatry De-
partment at the Bronx Municipal Hospital Center. She is the author or
coauthor of over 100 publications in peer reviewed journals, with major
interests in the areas of personality and psychotherapy research and psy-
chometrics. Some of her articles that are considered seminal include the
following: “A Circumplex Model for Interpersonal Personality Traits,” pub-
lished in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 1981, “Combined
Psychotherapy and Pharmacotherapy in the Treatment of Depression: A
Systematic Analysis of the Evidence,” 1986, in the Archives of General
Psychiatry; and “Interrelations Among Ego Functions and Personality Traits:
Their Relation to Psychotherapy Outcome,” published in the American
Journal of Psychotherapy in 1991

Most recently, Dr. Conte has contributed two chapters to volumes
dealing with ego defenses that describe recent work with a self-report scale
for the measurement of ego defense mechanisms that she helped to de-
velop. She is senior editor of a book now in press titled Ego Defenses
Theory and Measurement


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