The current status of research on the structure of evaluative space

Catherine J. Norris*, Jackie Gollan, Gary G. Berntson, John T. Cacioppo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

149 Scopus citations


The structure of evaluative space shapes emotional life and must be capable of an astonishing range of emotional experience and expression. In this article, we outline the current status of research on the Evaluative Space Model (ESM; Cacioppo et al., 1997, 1999), which proposes that behavioral predispositions (e.g., approach, withdrawal) are the ultimate output of the affect system, which is defined by operating characteristics that differ for positivity and negativity, and across levels of the nervous system. First, we summarize the tenets of the model, as well as counterarguments raised by other theorists. To address these counterarguments, we discuss the postulates of affective oscillation and calibration, two features of the affect system proposed to underlie the durability and adaptability of affect. Finally, we consider the implications of disorder in the structure of evaluative space for the comprehension and treatment of depression and anxiety.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)422-436
Number of pages15
JournalBiological Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2010


  • Ambivalence
  • Depression
  • Negativity
  • Positivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


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