Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

pp 1-3

Date: Latest Version

Affect in Couple and Family Therapy

  • Andrew S. BrimhallAffiliated withEast Carolina University Email author 
  • , David M. HaralsonAffiliated withEast Carolina University

Name of Concept



Affect, mood, and emotion are often used interchangeably. However, important distinctions exist. Within modern psychology, affect is usually represented as one of three interconnected domains: affect, behavior, and cognition (Duncan and Barrett 2007). Some theorists believe that affect is a type of instinctual reaction to stimuli that occurs before cognition, while others believe that affective reactions happen both pre- and post-cognition. Although both emotions and moods are generally considered affective states, moods are distinguished by being more diffused, unfocused, and lasting much longer, whereas emotions are typically elicited by something and include the individual assignment meaning to that reaction (Batson et al. 1992).

Theoretical Context for Concept

Despite being one of three interconnected domains (affect, behavior, and cognition), the prominence placed on the role of affect varies by theory. Theories who view affect as central to the chan ...

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