This group of theories explains the emergence of negative emotions as a consequence of unsatisfied needs and drives as a result of failure. In this case, we are talking about mental emotions, i.e. emotions that arise not as an assessment of a stimulus, which is observed in unconditionally reflexive emotional reactions, but as an assessment of the degree of success (or rather – failure) of achieving a goal, satisfying a need.
These are the emotions of sadness, anger, anger, rage, fear. The beginning of the development of these theories was laid by J. Dewey (Deway, 1895). He thought that emotion arises only when the performance of instinctive actions or voluntary forms of behavior encounters an obstacle. In this case, trying to adapt to new living conditions, a person feels an emotion. Dewey wrote that psychologically, emotion is an adaptation or tension of skill and ideal, and organic change is a manifestation of this struggle for adaptation. E. Clapared’s opinion is close to this position: emotions arise only when, for one reason or another, adaptation becomes difficult. If a person can escape, he does not feel fear. In the following years, L. Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance arose and was thoroughly developed
According to this theory, when there is a discrepancy between the expected and actual results of the activity (cognitive dissonance), negative emotions arise, while the coincidence of the expectation and the result (cognitive consonance) leads to the appearance of positive emotions. Emotions arising from dissonance and consonance are considered in this theory as the main motives of appropriate human behavior. Despite many studies confirming the validity of this theory, there are other data showing that in some cases dissonance can also cause positive emotions (Hunt, 1962).
According to J. Hunt, a certain degree of discrepancy between attitudes and signals, a certain “optimum of discrepancy” (novelty, unusualness, inconsistency, etc.) is necessary for the emergence of positive emotions. If the signal does not differ from the previous ones, it is evaluated as uninteresting; if it is very different, it will seem dangerous, unpleasant, annoying, etc.
Used materials from “Psychology of emotions” by E.P. Ilyin