University of Sussex

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The architectural basis of affective states and processes

posted on 2023-06-07, 14:03 authored by A. Sloman, Ron ChrisleyRon Chrisley, M. Scheutz
Much discussion of emotions and related topics is riddled with confusion because different authors use the key expressions with different meanings. Some confuse the concept of "emotion" with the more general concept of "affect", which covers other things besides emotions, including moods, attitudes, desires, preferences, intentions, dislikes, etc. Moreover researchers have different goals: some are concerned with understanding natural phenomena, while others are more concerned with producing useful artifacts, e.g. synthetic entertainment agents, sympathetic machine interfaces, and the like. We address this confusion by showing how "architecture-based" concepts can extend and refine our pre-theoretical concepts in ways that make them more useful both for expressing scientific questions and theories, and for specifying engineering objectives. An implication is that different information-processing architectures support different classes of emotions, different classes of consciousness, different varieties of perception, and so on. We start with high level concepts applicable to a wide variety of types of natural and artificial systems, including very simple organisms, namely concepts such as "need", "function", "information-user", "affect", "information-processing architecture". For more complex architectures, we offer the CogAff schema as a generic framework which distinguishes types of components that may be in a architecture, operating concurrently with different functional roles. We also sketch H-Cogaff, a richly-featured special case of CogAff, conjectured as a type of architecture that can explain or replicate human mental phenomena. We show how the concepts that are definable in terms of such architectures can clarify and enrich research on human emotions. If successful for the purposes of science and philosophy the architecture is also likely to be useful for engineering purposes, though many engineering goals can be achieved using shallow concepts and shallow theories, e.g., producing "believable" agents for computer entertainments. The more human-like robot emotions will emerge, as they do in humans, from the interactions of many mechanisms serving different purposes, not from a particular, dedicated "emotion mechanism".


Publication status

  • Published


Oxford University Press

Page range




Book title

Who needs emotions? The brain meets the robot

Place of publication





Affective Science

Department affiliated with

  • Informatics Publications

Full text available

  • No

Peer reviewed?

  • Yes


J. Fellous, M. Arbib

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