Cognitive processes are the number of actions that the brain does simultaneously. They are responsible for processing all the data we receive from our surroundings. The interaction between cognitive processes helps human beings adequately analyze the reality and hence adapt to it. These cognitive processes are however influenced by some factors one of them being emotions. Emotional responses are reactions of a person’s body to situations that are influenced by external influences, for example, other people. Regulation of emotional responses refers to all extrinsic and intrinsic attempts to modify emotional reactions. Biologically, regulation of human emotions is based on non-cognitive theories of emotion propose a direct relationship between the emotion and the physiological or the neutral state. Further research shows that consistent impairment of cognitive control during concurrent, task-irrelevant emotional processing. Emotions involve evaluation of events both consciously or unconsciously, that is appraisals. Our appraisal of an event causes emotional responses even if physiological arousal is not present.
There are two approaches that explain appraisal for emotions and how emotions develop in different ways. These are the process model and the structural approach. If there are no physiological arousals, human beings tend to interpret the situation then decide how to feel about such a situation. Hence, the sequence of events is an occurrence of an event, thinking, and simultaneous events of arousal and emotions. Here the intensity of the emotion lodes does not depend on the event itself; it depends on the person’s evaluation of the event regarding appraisal dimension. Emotional responses are concurrent with the performance of the brain cells and they can either be activated or stimulated consciously or unconsciously depending on the cognitive process being involved. According to Finkbeiner (2014), as an event occurs, the concerned evaluates how such an event will affect his or her well-being, and if he or she will be able to withstand such an event and its consequences. Human emotions can, however, be controlled especially those caused by unconscious cognitive control processes. Through constant learning and practices, they can be easily altered with to fit what is expected.
Scientifically, many cognitive control processes that affect our emotional responses are activated by conscious stimuli while others are activated by unconscious stimuli. A good example of a conscious cognitive response is the ability to rapidly and flexibly adapt our behavior when necessary. Some of the functions of cognitive control processes are to control major human emotions and their responses to them. Such activities include; conflict resolution, response inhibition, correction mechanism, and task switching. All these are bound and controlled by consciousness. Consciousness is also responsible for making the right decisions in most cases. On the other hand, an example of an unconscious cognitive process is task-set preparation. Bargh and Morsella (2016) argued that although the strength of unconscious information processing tends to increase considerably with the amount of learning and learning, participants consciously perform either phonological or semantic judgment on an upcoming word or event. When these participants are unconsciously primed to perform their phonological tasks, there are an increased activities and end up triggering emotions in an opposite manner than the expected one.
Bargh J., Morsella E. (2016). The unconscious Mind. Perspect. Psychol. Sci. 3, 73–79.
Finkbeiner M., (2014). The Flexibility of Non-consciously Deployed Cognitive Processes: evidence from Masked Congruence Priming.