Cognitive-Mediational (Lazarus) Theory Show more Show less
In the Lazarus theory, cognitive appraisal must take place before any physiological or emotional reaction can occur.
Richard Lazarus's Cognitive-Mediational theory of emotions developed out of theories of cognitive appraisal, in which immediate, unconscious evaluations (appraisals) of external stimuli are the first step in the brain's processing of events. Lazarus built on the basic concept of cognitive appraisals by describing two different types of appraisal, primary and secondary appraisals. Primary appraisals are cognitive assessments of the meaning of events and situations, while secondary appraisals add another layer of evaluation which determines emotional and physiological responses based on the individual's range of options available for coping in any given situation. The advantage of Cognitive-Mediational theory over earlier theories of emotion was that it offered an explanation for why different people may experience different emotions when confronted with the same stimuli. Because different people have different capabilities for handling threats and stressors, the combination of primary and secondary cognitive appraisals can result in different evaluations of the appropriate emotional response to a specific stimulus, thus mediating each individual's emotions differently through their cognitive processes.