Emotion refers to a complex psychological experience which people go through as a result of interacting with the environment (Carstensen & Mikels, 2005). We have negative emotions and positive emotions, and we tend to relate these emotions to an event, object or other people. Human beings have primary and secondary emotions. Examples of innate emotions include fear, joy, surprise, care, love, and anger. Secondary emotions are those which we learn via our experiences. Examples include horror, rage, sympathy, neglect, shame, and pride.  Stanley Schachter and Jerome E. Singer proposed the two-factor theory in 1962. However, this is one of the most popular theories used to classify emotions.  

A brief description of the selected theory

I have chosen Schachter and Singer’s two-factor theory for this study. According to the proponents, emotion is based on two factors: physiological arousal and cognitive label (Cacioppo & Gardner, 1999). A stimulus creates an arousal, which is labeled using the cognition which sparks the emotion. For example, the sound of a gunshot may lead to psychological responses such as trembling and a rapid heart rate often interpreted as fear.

Why This Theory Is Optimal For the Classification of Emotions

Since its introduction, the two-factor theory remains the most optimal theory of emotions. Schachter and Singer conducted research whose findings support the fact that human beings tend to label their arousals according to the cognitions they experience. Unlike other available theories of emotion, the proposition of the theory is adequately supported by evidence (Carstensen & Mikels, 2005).

The SPAARS model and Schachter and Singer’s two-factor theory

SPAARS is an acronym for Schematic, Propositional, Analogical and Associative Representational Systems (Power & Dalgleish, 2008). Power and Dalgleish proposed this integrated cognitive model in 1997 (Williams et al. 2009). According to this model, basic emotions have an innate element and thus can be elicited automatically. The theory suggests that emotions can be generated directly or indirectly. As discussed, human beings generate both positive and negative emotions such as fear, joy, surprise, care, love, anger, horror, rage, sympathy, neglect, shame and pride. In contrast, the SPAARS model argues that there are two different routes for eliciting these basic emotions.


Cacioppo, J. T., & Gardner, W. L. (1999). Emotion. Annual Review of Psychology, 50, 191–214.

Carstensen, L. L., & Mikels, J. A. (2005). At the intersection of emotion and cognition: Aging and the positivity effect. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 14(3), 117–121.

Power, M., & Dalgleish, T. (2008). Towards an integrated cognitive theory of emotion: The SPAARS approach. In Cognition and emotion: From order to disorder (2nd ed., pp. 129–167). London, England: Psychology Press.

Williams, L. E., Bargh, J. A., Nocera, C. C., & Gray, J. R. (2009). The unconscious regulation of emotion: Nonconscious reappraisal goals modulate emotional reactivity. Emotion, 9(6), 847–854.