Suzanne Gilbert, Della Lonkar, Karmyla Lopez, Joy Schatz
April 18, 2011
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. 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. 1-2). 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...