Theories of Emotion: Historical Approaches

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Transcript Theories of Emotion: Historical Approaches

Theories of Emotion

Historical Approaches

Common Sense Theory 1. Emotion-arousing stimulus leads to a 2. Conscious feeling (fear, anger) and a 3.

Physiological response.

4. Emotional Behavior • Seeing an angry dog triggers feelings of fear and physical responses such as trembling and behavior like running.

Common-Sense Theory Stimulus (Tiger) Perception (Interpretation of stimulus — danger) Emotion (Fear) Bodily arousal (Pounding heart) & Fearful Behavior

• Common sense might suggest that the perception of a stimulus elicits emotion which then causes bodily arousal

Debates in Emotion Research • Which comes first, physiological arousal or the subjective experience of an emotion?

• Can we react emotionally


appraising a situation, or does thinking always precede emotion?

• • • James-Lange Theory An emotion-arousing stimulus in the environment triggers a physiological reaction and behavior.

Our awareness of the physiological reaction leads to our experience of an emotion.

James believed that emotion followed this sequence: 1. We perceive a stimulus.

2. Physiological and behavioral changes occur.

3. We experience a particular emotion.

James’s Peripheral Feedback Theory

James’s Theory Stimulus (Tiger) Perception (Interpretation of stimulus- danger) Bodily arousal (Pounding heart) & Fearful Behavior Emotion (Fear)

• Perception of a stimulus causes bodily arousal which leads to emotion • We do not run from a tiger because we are afraid. We are afraid because we ran from the tiger. • The relationship is

See the tiger


Run from tiger


Experience fear

James-Lange Theory

Walter B. Cannon challenged the James –Lange theory • Bodily reactions are similar for many emotions (fear, rage), yet our subjective experience of various emotions is very different • Our emotional reaction to a stimulus is often faster than our physiological reaction • Artificially inducing physiological changes via adrenaline did not necessarily produce a related emotional experience • James had proposed that if a person were cut off from feeling bodily changes, he would not experience true emotions. – Studies of people with spinal cord injuries and cats with disabled sympathetic N.S. do not support James’ idea

Cannon-Bard Theory • An emotion-arousing stimulus


triggers both a – physiological response ( sympathetic nervous system ) and – the experience of an emotion ( brain’s cerebral cortex) .

Cannon Bard Theory

Theories of Emotion: Cognition and Emotion

Two-Factor Theory • Emotions involve two factors: – A physiological arousal – A

cognitive label

of the


• Also called the Schachter-Singer Theory • Study using epinephrine and a humorous or irritating situation showed that those who did NOT know their physiological responses (increased heart beat) was caused by a shot rated their emotions as more intense than those who knew.

Schachter’s Cognition-Plus-Feedback Theory

Stimulus (Tiger) Perception (Interpretation of stimulus- danger) Bodily arousal (Pounding heart) Emotion (Fear) Type Intensity

• Perception and thought about a stimulus influence the

type of emotion

felt • Degree of bodily arousal influences the

intensity of emotion


Two-Factor Theory

Richard Lazarus (1922 ) Cognitive-Mediational Theory • Emotions result from the cognitive appraisal of a


effect on personal well-being • All other components of emotion, including physiological arousal,


the initial cognitive appraisal • Intense emotions come from situations whose outcomes are important to us.

• Critics of this theory argue that emotional reactions to a stimulus or event are virtually instantaneous — too rapid to allow for the process of cognitive appraisal. They suggest that we feel first and think later.

Cognitive-Mediational Theory 2. I think he’s a mugger!

3. I’m afraid (heart beating) & will run away.




I see a man by the parked car.

I hear & recognize his voice.


OR 2.

I know him and am not afraid 3.

I see a man by the parked car.

I think he’s a mugger.

I’m afraid and will run away.

Your emotion depends on your cognitive appraisal or


of the


Lazarus Cognitive Mediational Theory

Cognitive Label “This is a dangerous situation!” Pounding Heart (arousal) Fear (emotion)

Robert Zajonc (1923 ) • Suggested that not all emotions involve deliberate thinking • Therefore, cognition is not necessary for all emotions • Some emotions skip the thinking part of the brain • We feel first, think later.

Paths to Emotional Responses

Paths to Emotional Responses

Paths to Emotional Responses

And the Winner is…

Modern Research Supports

James –Lange Theory • Antonio Damasio’s findings—that each basic emotion produced a distinct pattern or neural response and that the physiological changes occurred


they were interpreted as an emotion —support the theory • Support is also provided by research on the

facial feedback hypothesis

—the view that expressing a specific emotion, especially facially, causes the subjective experience of that emotion – When people mimic the facial expressions characteristic of a given emotion, they tend to report feeling that emotion.

– The basic explanation for this is that the facial muscles send feedback signals to the brain, which uses the information to activate and regulate emotional experience.