AAAC seminar

Lola Canamero, full professor CYU / ETIS, organizes an online seminar serie on behalf of the Association for the Advancement of Affective Computing. First event on October 28th with Andrew Ortony (Northwestern University, USA).

it is our pleasure to announce the new (online) AAAC (Association for the Advancement of Affective Computing) Seminar Series, opening this month (next Friday, October 28th) with a talk by Prof. Andrew Ortony, who will reflect on 35 five years of his very influential book “The Cognitive Structure of Emotions”, following the recent publication of its Second Edition (see details in the abstract below).

The Seminar Series has the twofold objective of: (1) presenting and critically reflecting on key research (both seminal and state-of-the art) in all areas of and disciplines related to Affective Computing, and (2) introducing Affective Computing to starting researchers and researchers from other disciplines. With this double aim in mind, the series will include different types of talks, ranging in style from keynotes,  to tutorials, to interviews. Seminars will be about 1 hour long (including questions from the audience), monthly in frequency (in principle with a break the Summer term), and schedule at a time that should make it possible for most people around the globe to attend (by default at 16:00 CET/CEST). For the 2022-2023 academic year, the list of talks programmed until December 2022 is already available on the Seminar Series website (, the talks programmed for 2023 will be available shortly. The Seminar Series is part of AAAC’s Education and Early Career activities.

Attendance to the seminars is free and open to everyone. Attendees will need to register to receive the link to participate. The link to register will be added to our website ( very shortly.


Prof. Andrew Ortony @ AAAC Seminar Series (October 28, 2022, 16:00 CET)

The Cognitive Structure of Emotions (“OCC”), 1988-2022: An Overview


Nearly 35 years after its initial publication, the new (2022) edition of “The Cognitive Structure of Emotions” refines and updates the so-called OCC (Ortony, Clore, and Collins) model of emotions. Starting from a three-way classification of construals of the world––events, the attribution of responsibility for events, and objects––the OCC model proposes a systematic account of emotion differentiation, emotion classification, and emotion intensity. Rejecting the oft-favored features of bodily feelings, emotion-related behaviors, and facial expressions as too intensity-dependent and insufficiently diagnostic, OCC provides a detailed, computationally tractable, model in terms of the cognitive underpinnings of different emotion types. 

In this talk, some popular beliefs and assumptions characteristic of many widely held accounts of emotions will be questioned. It will be suggested that many of these beliefs and assumptions are relevant only to easily labeled intense instances of emotions, thereby inadvertently allowing experiential and linguistic salience to trump typicality. The result is a tendency for researchers to be misled as to what emotions are, how they should be conceptualized, and how they should be distinguished, one from another. The OCC model is an attempt to overcome some of these problems by seeking to characterize emotions not in terms of everyday emotion words but in terms that are as language- and culture-neutral as possible – cognitive terms.  A minimal definition of emotion will be presented that aims to provide a principled way of separating emotions from other kinds of (non-emotional) mental states, a distinction that is important because many influential emotion theorists seem willing to include as emotions states (such as curiosity and surprise) whose status as emotions is open to question. Finally, the way in which the model can be formalized for affective computing purposes will be outlined, paying special attention to both the necessary and the sufficient conditions for the emergence of different emotion types and to the determinants of emotion intensity.


Andrew Ortony, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, Education, and Computer Science at Northwestern University, USA, is a cognitive scientist best known for his research on emotions and on metaphor. The formalizable model of the cognitive antecedents of emotions (often referred to as the OCC model) articulated in the first edition (OCC1) of The Cognitive Structure of Emotions (Ortony, Clore, and Collins, 1988, Cambridge University Press) and updated and refined in the recently released (2022) second edition, (OCC2) is used as the basis for very many emotion modeling efforts in affective computing; according to Google Scholar, OCC1 has been cited over 10,000 times. Ortony is the author of hundreds of articles in the cognitive sciences and his edited volume, Metaphor and Thought (Cambridge University Press, 1993, second edition), is widely regarded as a landmark interdisciplinary work in the field of metaphor. Ortony is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and the American Psychological Society. From 2008 to 2013, starting from the ground up, he built an interdisciplinary Computational Social Cognition research group in Singapore’s premier research institution, A*STAR, a group which served as the foundation of today’s Social and Cognitive Computing Department in A*STAR’s Institute of High Performance Computing.

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