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Theories of Emotion

By | Jan. 2009
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Theories of Emotion

Theories are commonly based on speculation, belief, and scientific analysis. A theory of emotions according to which arousal provides the basis for any emotion, but the quality of the emotion is provided by the person's interpretation of its cause, the specific emotion that is felt depending on the person's interpretation and explanation of the felt arousal. Psychologist has identified at least three major theories of emotion: The James-Lange Theory, The Cannon-Bard Theory, and the Schachter’s Cognitive Theory of Emotion.

The James-Lange Theory states that emotional feelings follow bodily arousal and come from awareness of such arousal (Page 376). Two 19th-century scholars, William James and Carl Lange, developed this hypothesis independently. It talks about awareness of the arousal before feeling an emotion. Does it mean you need to have an arousal of some type before feeling an emotion? What kind of arousal? Arousal from a kiss can bring out different types of emotion. It depends on who is kissing you and why. If an attractive woman kisses me on my lips just because she thinks I am sexy, what should my emotional reaction be? Do I react after the kiss or while being kissed? Personally, I think sexual desire is the kind of emotion that I would feel while I am being kissed on my lips. My heart rate will increase as a result of this emotion. In this case, the emotional feeling of sexual desire came about after I was aroused by the kiss. It makes sense because I would not have felt the emotion of sexual desire (or would I?) if an attractive woman had not kissed me on my lips first.

The Canon-Bard Theory states that activity in the thalamus causes emotional feelings and bodily arousal to occur simultaneously (Page 376). According to Wikipedia, the theory was formulated by Walter Cannon and Philip Bard following the introduction of the James-Lange theory of Emotion in the late 1800s, which alternately suggested that emotion is the result...

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