Abstract Causal attribution and appraisal are two types of cognition that mediate how events influence emotional reactions. Whereas the former is a “cold” cognition that relies on fact-based processing, the latter is a “hot” cognition that depends on how those facts affect personal well being. The current research investigates the relative contribution of attribution, primary appraisal (e.g., motivational relevance and goal congruence), and secondary appraisal (e.g., situational inferences affecting the intensity of an emotion) to four agent-based emotions: anger, shame, gratitude, and pride. A sporting event context was selected because game information is objectively neutral and acquires meaning only when interpreted through a lens that favors a preferred team. Two studies are reported, each consisting of two independent data collections in which a target team either wins or loses. The first study uses a naturalistic setting and the second an experimental approach. The results of three of the four data collections indicate that appraisal is a more efficient predictor of emotion than attribution. Appraisal also mediated the effect of attribution on the negative emotions, but only partial mediation was found for the positive emotions. Moreover, secondary appraisal was more highly related to negative emotion but the contribution of each appraisal type to positive emotion was nearly equivalent. Also, in Study 2, emotion intensity was significantly greater following a controllable outcome deemed unstable than one thought to be stable—but only for games featuring a preferred team for which motivational relevance (i.e., psychological attachment) exists.