A Domain-Independent Approach of Cognitive Appraisal Augmented by Higher Cognitive Layer of Ethical Reasoning

Cognitive Science Society
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Proceedings of the 39th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, 2017, pp. 2833 - 2838
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According to cognitive appraisal theory, emotion in an individual is the result of how a situation/event is evaluated by the individual. This evaluation has different outcomes among people and it is often suggested to be operationalised by a set of rules or beliefs acquired by the subject throughout development. Unfortunately, this view is particularly detrimental for computational applications of emotion appraisal. In fact, it requires providing a knowledge base that is particularly difficult to establish and manage, especially in systems designed for highly complex scenarios, such as social robots. In addition, according to appraisal theory, an individual might elicit more than one emotion at a time in reaction to an event. Hence, determining which emotional state should be attributed in relationship to a specific event is another critical issue not yet fully addressed by the available literature. In this work, we show that: (i) the cognitive appraisal process can be realised without a complex set of rules; instead, we propose that this process can be operationalised by knowing only the positive or negative perceived effect the event has on the subject, thus facilitating extensibility and integrability of the emotional system; (ii) the final emotional state to attribute in relation to a specific situation is better explained by ethical reasoning mechanisms. These hypotheses are supported by our experimental results. Therefore, this contribution is particularly significant to provide a more simple and generalisable explanation of cognitive appraisal theory and to promote the integration between theories of emotion and ethics studies, currently often neglected by the available literature.
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