Abstract This article presents a model of the structure of emotion developed primarily from a consideration of neuropsychological evidence and behavioural data which have bearing on neuropsychological theories. Valence is first considered and highlighted as a defining characteristic of emotion. Next, the use of facial behaviour and autonomic nervous system patterns as defining characteristics of discrete emotions is questioned on empirical and conceptual grounds. The regulation of emotion is considered and proposed to affect the very structure of emotion itself. If there is an invariant pattern of biological activity across different instantiations of the same emotion, it is likely to be found in higher-order associative networks of central nervous system activity, the very same networks that subserve goal-directed behaviour and other cognitive functions. Drawing upon evolutionary considerations, it is argued that what is basic about emotion are the dimensions of approach and withdrawal. The nature of the linkage between such action tendencies and emotion is discussed.
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