CHAPTER 13 (SUMMARY): EMOTION
Emotions are psychological responses that involve an interplay among (1) physiological arousal,
(2) expressive behavior, and (3) conscious experience.
James and Lange argued that we feel emotion after we notice our bodily responses. Cannon
and Bard contended that we feel emotion when our body responds. Stanley Schachter’s two-
factor theory states that to experience emotion, we must be aroused and cognitively label the
emotion. Although some psychologists agree that emotions arise from our interpretations and
inferences, others maintain that some simple emotional responses occur without any conscious
processing. Many emotions can be placed along two basic dimensions: arousal and valence.
Although the physical arousal that occurs with the different emotions is for the most part
indistinguishable, researchers have discovered subtle differences in brain circuits, finger
temperatures, and hormones. In using physiological indicators to detect lies, the polygraph does
better than chance but not nearly well enough to justify its widespread use.
We decipher people’s emotions by “reading” their bodies, voices, and faces. Although some
gestures are culturally determined, facial expressions, such as those of happiness and fear, are
universal. Facial expressions not only communicate emotion but also amplify the felt emotion.
This chapter examines three human emotions in detail: fear, anger, and happiness. Although
we seem biologically predisposed to acquire some fears, what we learn through experience best
explains the variety of human fears. Anger is most often aroused by frustrating or insulting acts
that seem willful and unjustified. Expressing anger may be temporarily calming, but in the long
run, it can actually arouse more anger. Happiness boosts people’s perceptions of the world and
their willingness to help others. However, even significant good events seldom increase
happiness for long, a fact explained by the adaptation-level and relative deprivation principles.
Theories of Emotion
Three components of emotion; James-Lange versus Cannon-Bard theories of emotion.
An emotion is a response of the whole organism that involves an interplay among (1)
physiological arousal, (2) expressive behavior, and (3) conscious experience.
The James-Lange theory states that our experience of an emotion is a consequence of our
physiological response to a stimulus; we are afraid because our heart pounds (say, in response
to an approaching stranger). The Cannon-Bard theory, on the other hand, proposes that the
physiological response and subjective experience of emotion occur simultaneously. Heart
pounding and fear occur at the same time—one does not cause the other.
Schachter’s two-factor theory of emotion; Evidence that some emotions involve no conscious thought.