Theories of Emotion
Researchers have debated about the phenomenon with emotions. Debates on this topic have and will continue to for many more years. Researchers have attempted to understand why one has emotions and came up with the five different theories. The first theory is the James-Lange theory, which argues that an event can cause physiological arousal first and, it can be interpret this as an arousal. Second theory is the Cannon-Bard theory that argues that all humans experience a physiological arousal and an emotional one at the same time. It still does not give any attention to the role of the thoughts or an outward behavior.
Third theory is Schechter-Singer theory, which any kind of an event can cause physiological arousal first. One can find the reason for arousal labeling the experience and the emotion. Lazarus theory is the fourth in line and that a person must think about the situation before his or her experience is an emotion. The final theory is Facial Feedback theory, which is how an emotion changes the facial muscles to show pleasure and happiness. These theories have arisen from different perspectives from emotions and their causes. Theories cause many debates and will continue these debates throughout the years to come.
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Historical Theories and Historical Theories of Arousal The Cannon-Bard theory of emotion comes from Walter Cannon, an American neurologist and physiologist, and Philip Bard, an American psychologist. It states that when an alarming event takes place one is aroused, a physiological change occurs, and an emotion follows. An example is a man camping in the woods. He sees a bear and begins to tremble, shake, and becomes afraid. The thalamus receives a signal and communicates to the amygdala, which relates to emotion. One’s body signals the automatic nervous system to become afraid.
According to (2011), “Walter B. Cannon, a Harvard physiologist, questioned the James-Lange theory on the basis of a number of observations; he noted that the feedback from bodily changes can be eliminated without eliminating emotion; that the bodily changes associated with many quite different emotional states are similar, making it unlikely that these changes serve to produce particular emotions; that the organs supposedly providing the feedback to the brain concerning these bodily changes are not very sensitive; and that these bodily changes occur too slowly to account for experienced emotions” (2011, pp. -2). The James-Lang theory of Emotion is the rebuttal of the Cannon-Bard theory. William James was an American psychologist, philosopher, and trained medical doctor. Carle Lange was a Danish physician and psychologist. The theory states that emotions are the perception of certain physical changes. Physiological changes create emotions and the autonomic nervous system activates them. The theory suggests that certain physiological changes generate specific emotions, such as increased heart rate, sweating, muscle tension and others. An example of this is the fight-or-flight reaction.
One must take an assessment of the event when one feels in danger. Then he or she decides, in a split moment, whether to stay and fight or run (flight). The event causes an arousal, one must interpret his or her surrounds. The heart races, pupils dilate, muscle become tense, senses heighten and one is afraid (Changing Minds, 2002-2011). Developing the Yerkes Law of Arousal was Robert M. Yerkes and John Dillingham Dodson. It states that an aroused organism can improve physiologically or mentally. Performance can decrease if there is too much arousal. This level is different in each individual.
An example is an athlete increasing his or her performance during a game, rather than at practice because the excitement of the game is arousing. If there is too much pressure doing the game one’s performance can decrease (The Cannon-Bard Theory, 2011). Proposing the Drive Reduction theory was by Clark Hull, an American psychologist. This theory states that one cannot learn unless there is a drive that forces one into action to produce some kind of reward. This satisfies the drive and reduces the psychological or physiological need. (Drive Reduction Theory, 2011).
An example of a psychological need is a desire for love. One will seek out others to be a part of one’s life. An example of a physiological need is hunger. One will look for food when hungry. Uncovering Basic Emotions Analyzing research methods used for uncovering basic emotions applied to the Cannon-Bard emotion theory and Drive reduction arousal theory. The Cannon-Bard theory of emotion is a stimulating event takes place, emotional, and physiological changes occur (Changing Minds, 2010). A person may feel muscular tension as well as sweating to the situation.
A research method associated with the Cannon-Bard emotion theory would be the evolution theory. This method is an idea where emotion aids species survival (Decker, 2010). An example: A person is hiking through the woods approaches a snake. The appearance of the snake evokes fear, which in return causes the emotional experience. Fear produces behavior and emotion to run, muscular tension, or possibly cry. The emotion evoked by the predator or event causes the survival. The Drive reduction arousal theory is an approach to motivation that assumes behavior arises.
Arousal is the source of emotions. Second, arousal is the impetus for attending to and interpreting the environment with the emotional feeling occurring as a result (Decker, 2010). The result is the arousal and subjective feeling occurring together. The arousal causes readiness to the activity. Cognitive method is the focus on arousal, cognitive, and physiological extracted from a situation. An example; a thunderstorm, producing hail, rain, forceful winds, and loud noises. The arousal forces a person to focus on the situation. The Drive reduction theory assumes behavior arises.
The focus of arousal during a thunderstorm is behavior of ready to take action. The intensity of the emotional experience however depends on the degree of physiological arousal (Decker, 2010). The final arousal from one’s cognitive is the emotional experience that influences the arousal. A loud noise indicates something is not normal, evoking focus on the subject. During arousal, a person feels an emotional feeling as a result to behavior to take action. The emotions involved influence the motivation for the readiness.
Facial Feedback Hypothesis. Facial feedback hypothesis is a “skeletal muscle feedback from facial expressions plays a casual role in regulating emotional experience and behavior” (Buck, 1980, p. 1). Facial feedback also plays an important part within the theories of emotion and arousal. Without the facial expressions given to others, there is no determination of whether the behavior has affected them in anyway. For example, at a fast food restaurant, all the employees are to smile at everyone they take an order from. A man walks in and sees a girl behind the counter asking if she can take his order.
The cashier looks to be happy because she is grinning from ear to ear. The man asks why she is so happy and her reply is to make the customer feel that she is happy and have a pleasant time while ordering food. A smile is said to be very contagious and interpret the emotion one is feeling (Womack, 2004); such as happy or a frown to resemble sadness. “The viscal feedback may make a more direct contribution to emotional processes than facial feedback and that “readout” functions of facial expressions are more important than any feedback functions” (Buck, 1980, p. 814).
The emotion within itself can react into developing the same feeling or giving of that same feeling to one encourages to feel the same way through the self-attribution theory. This theory “indicates that an individual’s expressive behavior mediates the quality of his emotional experience” (Laired, 1974, p. 479). Event-Appraisal-Emotion Sequence Event-appraisal-emotion sequence is different reactions to the same situations, just with different interpretations. Roseman and Smith concluded several assumptions to this sequence. “The first is, different appraisals of the same event produce different emotions” (Deckers, 2010, p. 38). An example of this would be winning the championship game, one emotion would feeling happy, and the other would feel upset but looking forward to the next season.
“The second is the same appraisal of different events produces the same emotion” (Deckers, 2010, p. 338). An example of this would be two different students earning different grades but accepting to both grades. “The third is the outcome of the appraisal process elicits the involuntary unfolding of emotion” (Deckers, 2010, p. 338). For example, no matter the situation sometimes a person can just feeling sad and gloomy. The final assumptions are the appraisal can occur above and below an individual’s cognitive awareness” (Deckers, 2010, p. 338). For instance, anxiety levels skyrocket without any knowledge of the cause. The way the event-appraisal-emotion sequence forms is through a process that starts with a stimulus or emotion inducing stimulus; This than transfers to the aware appraisal turning into a specific emotion, following the emotion that unfolds affecting the brain processes producing a physiological response or expression of behavior.
Conclusion. The way emotions affects behavior can depend on the way one is aroused by a situation. Many theories base their facts upon the way one acts in certain situations. Emotion carries through the state of mind deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others (Emotion, 2010). The theories that are associated with emotion include motivation and drive, included in the Cannon-Bard theory and the James-Lange theory. The theories affecting arousal in emotions are the Yerkes-Dodson Law theory and the Drive Reduction theory.
Different reactions occur through different emotions felt by a person whether it be through instinct of a behavior or out of the arousal brought to the persons attention. The behavior reacting to an expression can have a positive outlook on one person. Positive emotions can motivate behavior, and serve as positive reinforces (Deckers, 2010). In addition, Facial expressions can indicate feelings and signal social motives wanted from other people. Emotions greatly puts an effect on oneself and on others, determining how to motivate one through different arousal theories or through facial expressions can determine what one can accomplish.