Emotion is a prime example of the complexity of human mind and behaviour, a psychobiological mechanism shaped by language and culture, which has puzzled scholars in the humanities and social sciences over the centuries. In an effort to reconcile conflicting theoretical traditions, we advocate a componential approach which treats event appraisal, motivational shifts, physiological responses, motor expression, and subjective feeling as dynamically interrelated and integrated components during emotion episodes. Using a prediction-generating theoretical model, we will address both production (elicitation and reaction patterns) and perception (observer inference of emotion from expressive cues). Key issues are the cognitive architecture and mental chronometry of appraisal, neurophysiological structures of relevance and valence detection, the emergence of conscious feelings due to the synchronization of brain/body systems, the generating mechanism for motor expression, the dimensionality of affective space, and the role of embodiment and empathy in perceiving and interpreting emotional expressions. Using multiple paradigms in laboratory, game, simulation, virtual reality, and field settings, we will critically test theory-driven hypotheses by examining brain structures and circuits (via neuroimagery), behaviour (via monitoring decisions and actions), psychophysiological responses (via electrographic recording), facial, vocal, and bodily expressions (via micro-coding and image processing), and conscious feeling (via advanced self-report procedures). In this endeavour, we benefit from extensive research experience, access to outstanding infrastructure, advanced analysis and synthesis methods, validated experimental paradigms as well as, most importantly, from the joint competence of an interdisciplinary affective science group involving philosophers, linguists, psychologists, neuroscientists, behavioural economists, anthropologists, and computer scientists.
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