Welcome to the Appraisal, Stress, Coping & Emotion (ASCE, pronounced “ask”) Lab at Vanderbilt University, under the direction of Dr. Craig A. Smith and Dr. Leslie D. Kirby.  Our research focuses on the study of human emotion.   We are very interested in the varieties of emotions we experience as well as the motivational and adaptational functions that emotions serve.

In our studies of emotion we use a theoretical approach known as appraisal theory.  This theory proposes that emotions are elicited on the basis of a cognitive evaluation of what our circumstances imply for our personal well-being.  Different evaluations result in the experience of different emotions.  The types of questions we have explored using this theoretical framework have included: attempts to identify the issues or questions that are evaluated in emotion-eliciting appraisals; how the outcomes of these evaluations map onto emotional experience, as well as how these evaluations are related to the facial and physiological activities (e.g., electrodermal and cardiovascular activities) associated with emotion; and efforts to understand the motivational and adaptational functions served by these emotions, once elicited.