Citation: Huitt, W. (2003). The affective system. Educational Psychology Interactive. Valdosta, GA: Valdosta State University. Retrieved [date], from

Return to: | EdPsyc Interactive: Courses | More complete overview | Translations: Polish |


Emotion is important in personal and social life (Izard, Kagan, & Zajonc, 1984), is very complex (Young, 1996), and has been an important topic of study throughout most of the history of psychology (Lazarus, 1993). Reiman and his associates (1997) demonstrated that particular parts of the brain are associated with different aspects of emotion. The term "emotional intelligence" has been coined to describe attributes and skills related to this concept (Koonce, 1996).

 Dictionary definitions of some important terms associated with the affective system demonstrate how difficult it is to clearly articulate what is meant by emotion:

As is evident, many of the definitions refer to one of the other terms, resulting in a somewhat circular process of understanding the various aspects of emotions.

Similarly, definitions from psychology show how the concept of emotion requires reference to other faculties of mind as well as internal and overt behavior:

There are a number of classification systems of basic emotions compiled by a wide variety of researchers (e.g., Orony & Turner, 1990).  Krathwohl, Bloom, & Masia (1956) attempted to develop a taxonomy of the affective domain, similar to what Bloom and his colleagues (1956) developed for the cognitive domain, but it is really more a taxonomy of involvement and valuing than it is a taxonomy of emotions and emotional development. However, the study of values is an important topic for educators. Values, though an important component of moral character development, relate only to preferences or possible interests.  This is not the same as moral character, which is demonstrated in actual behavior.

Several other topics related to affective development include Erikson's (1950) theory of socioemotional development, Bandura's (1997) theory of self-efficacy, and important specific emotions such as optimism, enthusiasm, and empathy.


| Internet Resources | Electronic Files | Additional articles |

Return to:

All materials on this website [] are, unless otherwise stated, the property of William G. Huitt. Copyright and other intellectual property laws protect these materials. Reproduction or retransmission of the materials, in whole or in part, in any manner, without the prior written consent of the copyright holder, is a violation of copyright law.