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Cognitive Appraisal

Susan Folkman and Judith Tedlie Moskowitz

Subject Psychology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405161251.2009.x


An individual's cognitive appraisal , or judgment about the personal significance of an event, influences the extent to which the event is perceived as stressful and helps account for individual variation in response to events ranging from life events to day-to-day hassles. This concept was advanced by Richard Lazarus, PhD, in a landmark book, Psychological Stress and the Coping Process , published in 1966. That book and its successor, Stress, Appraisal, and Coping by Lazarus and Folkman, published in 1984, present a cognitive theory of stress that has provided the theoretical foundation for much of the research on this question that has occurred since that time. The cognitive theory considers stress a dynamic, transactional process that is shaped by the person, the environment, and the relationship between them. At the heart of this cognitive theory of stress is the concept of cognitive appraisal. People are constantly making judgments about the meaning or personal significance of what is happening in their environment. These judgments are referred to as appraisals. Stress and coping theory defines two kinds of appraisal, primary appraisal and secondary appraisal. Primary appraisal asks the question “Am I okay?” The answer is shaped by the person's values and goals and how these are affected by a given situation. Goals refer to all types of goals, ranging from proximal and ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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