Jim Russell's research centers
on human emotion. His interest began with the question of how large-scale environments
(such as homes, offices, malls) and social events (chatting with a friend, working
with a team) influence emotion and thereby influence various activities and outcomes.
This led to the fundamental question of how emotions can be described and then
assessed. Work on description includes the research on emotion concepts, research
on cultural similarities and differences in the description of emotion , and on
the assessment of emotion and related concepts such as mood. Many people believe
that faces express emotion and these facial expressions therefore provide another
way to tell what someone is feeling (facial expression). A different line of research
concerns how children come to understand and experience emotion.
Some specific ideas pursued
are a circumplex model of emotion, a prototype theory of emotion concepts, which
leads to the idea that specific emotions are understood in terms of scripts,
a defence of the traditional view that displeasure is the opposite of pleasure,
a skeptical review of the traditional view that basic emotions are universally
and easily recognized from facal expressions. More recently, the question has
arisen of how these various ideas fit together within a larger framework. An
analysis is being developed called "the psychological construction of emotion."