Psyc 609: Physiological Psychology

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Transcript Psyc 609: Physiological Psychology

Feelings and the Body:
William James and Autonomic
Specificity of Emotion
Bruce H. Friedman
Department of Psychology
Virginia Tech
October 20, 2007, SPR, Savannah, GA
The James-Lange theory of emotion
James: What is an emotion? (1884); The
emotions (1890); The physical basis of
emotion (1894)
– Independently proposed by Lange (1887)
Lumped together historically, in spite of separate
– Physiological responses causal in
emotional experience
Emotional stimuli evoke somato-visceral
Sensory feedback from reactions generates
Emotions have different bodily response patterns
Anecdotal/case study evidence, but led to
testable hypotheses & much research
Criticized by the structuralists (Wundt, 1891;
Titchener, 1896)
Cannon-Bard theory
Feelings & physiological responses are
independent (Cannon (1927, 1931); Bard (1929, 1934))
– Experimental test: severing animal sympathetic
afferents does not eliminate emotional behavior
SNS activity is relatively undifferentiated across emotions
Afferent ANS activity is diffuse; organs lack sensitivity
Visceral organs respond too slowly to induce emotion
Artificial visceral changes do not induce emotional states
– Centralist model: Emotional stimuli activate the
Simultaneously relays info to the cortex (experience) and
the hypothalamus/ANS (physiology)
“…devastating attack…(the) historical
importance (of Cannon’s criticisms) is not
so much that they destroyed the JamesLange theory, but rather that they were
influential in producing an extensive
research tradition in the
psychophysiology of emotion.”
-George Mandler, 1979
The first century of experimental psychology (E.
Hurst, ed.)
Activation theory
Further support for undifferentiated arousal
– ‘Emotion’: variations in activation under goaldirected behavior (Duffy, 1934, 1941)
– Reticular activating system: CNS mediator of
activation (Lindsley, 1951)
Activation continuum: sleep → intense affect
– Little differentiation among intense affective states
The psychophysiological approach:
Visceral patterning
The physiological differentiation between fear
and anger in humans (Ax, 1953)
– Anger- and fear-producing conditions yielded
distinct autonomic response patterns
Greater between- than within-subject variance; fits
Stimulus-Response Specificity vs. Individual Response
Stereotypy (Lacey, 1949; Malmo et al, 1950; Graham et al, 1958)
Greater response integration in anger
Epinephrine (E) response dominant in fear,
norepinephrine (NE) in anger (Ax, 1960; Funkenstein, 1956; J.
Schachter, 1957)
NE response to cold pressor in schizophrenia (Ax et al.,
Social-Cognitive view of emotion
Cognitive, social, and physiological
determinants of emotional state
(Schachter & Singer, 1962)
– Creative experiment finds no support for distinct
ANS patterns
Experimental Conditions
(Schachter & Singer, 1962)
Epi Inf
Epi Ign
Epi Mis
Epi Inf
Epi Ign
– Epi Mis condition not run in anger; conceived as a control
to assess artifactual effect of the Epi Inf instructions, use
in euphoria would suffice for this purpose
Social-Cognitive view of emotion
Cognitive, social, and physiological
determinants of emotional state
(Schachter & Singer, 1962)
– Creative experiment finds no support for distinct
ANS patterns
Fit cognitive zeitgeist of the 1960’s – 1970’s
Methodological, conceptual flaws noted (Ax & Plutchik,
“…findings…in accord with James' hypothesis that
different emotions are related to differential patterns of
bodily change ” (Fehr & Stern, 1970)
Such papers largely ignored; concept of non-specific,
diffuse autonomic arousal dominated this era
Failures to replicate led to debate (Maslach, 1979;
Marshall & Zimbardo, 1979; Schachter, 1979)
Modern era of ANS specificity research
Autonomic nervous system activity
distinguishes among emotions (Ekman,
Levenson, & Friesen, 1983)
– Further support (Levenson, Ekman, & Friesen, 1990;
Miller et al., 1987; Schwartz et al., 1981; Sinha et al., 1992)
(a) Explained variance minimal (b) discordance among
subjective & physiological responses (c) large individual
variability (Lang, 1994)
James appreciated the complexity of emotion (Ellsworth,
Pattern classification approach (Fridlund, Schwartz, & Fowler,
1984; Thayer, 1986; Friedman, 1988; Nyklicek, Thayer, & van
Doornen, 1997; Christie & Friedman, 2004; Rainville et al., 2006;
Kreibig et al, 2007)
William James (Harvard, 1868)
G. Stanley Hall (Harvard, 1878)
Joseph Jastrow (Johns Hopkins, 1886)
Clark L. Hull (Wisconsin 1918)
Neil E. Miller (Yale 1935)
Edgar E. Coons (Yale 1964)
Julian F. Thayer (New York University 1986)
Bruce H. Friedman (Penn State 1992)
Israel C. Christie
Chad L. Stephens
(Virginia Tech, 2005)
(Virginia Tech, 2007)
The debate continues
– Somatovisceral afference model (Cacioppo et al.,
1992, 2000)
– Are there “natural kinds” of emotion?
Yes (Izard, 2007; Panskepp, 2007); No (Feldman Barrett, 2007)
– James’ theory: prolifically generative
ANS specificity tenet particularly influential in
Mixed support stimulates new conceptualizations of
emotional processing
– Future research
Person-situation variables that moderate ANS
Expansion to include endocrine, CNS measures