The SPAARS approach: Implications for psychopathy

Neha Khetrapal*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Schematic, propositional, analogical and associative representational Systems (SPAARS) is the integrated cognitive model of emotion proposed by Power and Dalgleish (Cognition and Emotion: from order to disorder. The Psychology Press, England, 1997). It is multi-level in nature and includes four different levels of representation. In SPAARS, emotions are described as appraisal-based according to an individual's goals, thus making the theory functional in nature. Basic emotions possess an innate component and hence can be elicited automatically, since these emotions might already have been appraised in an individual's evolutionary past. Thus, the theory proposes two routes for the generation of emotions. It provides an useful approach within which both basic and complex emotions can readily be understood. The theory can also be applied in order to explain emotional disorders as well as to generate novel therapeutic interventions for them. In the current review the SPAARS approach has been used to understand psychopathy, also called the disorder of empathy (a complex emotion). The theory provides a new perspective for looking at psychopaths. It suggests that psychopathy may arise either due to a problem generating the basic emotion of sadness, the complex emotion of empathy or a combination of the two. The interventions suggested would also vary depending upon the underlying nature of the problem.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)131-138
    Number of pages8
    JournalPoiesis und Praxis
    Issue number3-4
    Publication statusPublished - 2009

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