Common sense and folk theories of psychology often pit cognition against emotion. The former would reflect high level processes related to intelligence and voluntary decision making; the latter would be akin to low level processes, such as instincts, operating automatically and beyond one’s volition. In the past, this dichotomy has also been emphasized in scientific psychology and raised a debate that culminated with the controversy between Zajonc (1984), who promoted a strict distinction between cognition and emotion that was summarized in his aphorism “preference needs no inference,” and Lazarus (1984), who defended the notion that no emotion can arise without a cognitive appraisal attributing an emotional meaning to a situation. Since then, most
researchers agree that this debate is more an issue of semantic controversy over the definition of cognition than a real theoretical issue (Leventhal & Scherer, 1987). There is now a strong consensus that emotion is elicited, supported, and regulated by a variety of cognitive processes, many of which are implicit and automatic in nature (Öhman, 1999).