Theories of Emotion

Theories of Emotion - TheoriesofEmotion

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Theories of Emotion Emotion is a complex, subjective experience accompanied by biological and behavioral  changes.  Emotion  involves feeling, thinking, activation of the  nervous system , physiological  changes, and behavioral changes such as facial expressions.  Different theories exist regarding how and why people experience emotion. These include  evolutionary theories, the  James -Lange theory, the  Cannon -Bard theory, Schacter and Singer’s  two-factor theory, and cognitive appraisal.  Evolutionary Theories More than a century ago, in the 1870s, Charles Darwin proposed that emotions evolved  because they had adaptive value. For example, fear evolved because it helped people to act in  ways that enhanced their chances of survival.  Darwin  believed that facial expressions of  emotion are innate (hard-wired). He pointed out that facial expressions allow people to  quickly judge someone’s hostility or friendliness and to communicate intentions to others.  Recent evolutionary theories of emotion also consider emotions to be innate responses to  stimuli. Evolutionary theorists tend to downplay the influence of thought and  learning  on  emotion, although they acknowledge that both can have an effect. Evolutionary theorists  believe that all human cultures share several primary emotions, including happiness,  contempt, surprise, disgust, anger, fear, and sadness. They believe that all other emotions  result from blends and different intensities of these primary emotions. For example, terror is a  more intense form of the primary emotion of fear.  The James-Lange Theory In the 1880s, two theorists, psychologist William James and physiologist Carl Lange,  independently proposed an idea that challenged commonsense beliefs about emotion. This  idea, which came to be known as the James-Lange theory, is that people experience emotion  because they perceive their bodies’ physiological responses to external events. According to  this  theory , people don’t cry because they feel sad. Rather, people feel sad because they cry,  and, likewise, they feel happy because they smile. This theory suggests that different  physiological states correspond to different experiences of emotion.  The Cannon-Bard Theory The physiologist Walter Cannon disagreed with the James-Lange theory, posing three main  arguments against it:  1. People can experience physiological arousal without experiencing emotion, such as when they have been running.  (The racing heart in this case is not an indication of fear.)  2. Physiological reactions happen too slowly to cause experiences of emotion, which occur very rapidly. For example, 
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Theories of Emotion - TheoriesofEmotion

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