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Theories of Emotion

According to the Cannon-Bard theory, your heart rate increases and you begin to tremble. While you are experiencing these physical reactions, you also experience the emotion of fear. According to this theory, the element of reasoning plays an important role in how we experience emotions.

The Schachter-Singer theory suggests that when an event causes physiological arousal, we try to find a reason for this arousal. Then we experience and label the emotion. For example, you are sitting in a dark room all by yourself and all of a sudden you hear breathing sound behind you. Your heart rate increases and you begin to tremble. Upon noticing these physical reactions, you realize that they come from the fact that you are all alone in a dark room.

Early Theories of Emotion

You think that you may be in danger, and you feel the emotion of fear. This theory focuses on the role of physiological arousal as a primary factor in emotions.

What Is the James-Lange Theory of Emotion?

However, it also suggests that physical arousals alone cannot be responsible for all the emotional responses. Therefore, it takes into account the cognitive aspect of the emotional reaction. You notice the increased heart rate and realize that it is caused by fear. Therefore, you feel frightened. The whole process begins with an external stimulus breathing sound in a dark room , followed by the physiological arousal increased heart rate and trembling.

The cognitive labels come into action when we associate the physiological arousals to fear, which is immediately followed by the conscious experience of the emotion of fear. Am highly interesting in recieving your topics psychology as to improve my knowledge on the field of psychology. Thank you and more power. Manipulating technology for a better aim of spreading something of significance.

Thanks for the comment.

Could you please rephrase? I really appreciate you for your notes in the field of psychology thanks a lot and and keep it up man. So, when you see the venomous snake, you feel fear at exactly the same time that your body mounts its fight or flight response. This emotional reaction would be separate and independent of the physiological arousal, even though they co-occur.

The James-Lange and Cannon-Bard theories have each garnered some empirical support in various research paradigms. For instance, Chwalisz, Diener, and Gallagher conducted a study of the emotional experiences of people who had spinal cord injuries. They reported that individuals who were incapable of receiving autonomic feedback because of their injuries still experienced emotion; however, there was a tendency for people with less awareness of autonomic arousal to experience less intense emotions.

In both of these examples, neither theory is fully supported because physiological arousal does not seem to be necessary for the emotional experience, but this arousal does appear to be involved in enhancing the intensity of the emotional experience.

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The Schachter-Singer two-factor theory of emotion is another variation on theories of emotions that takes into account both physiological arousal and the emotional experience. According to this theory, emotions are composed of two factors: physiological and cognitive. In other words, physiological arousal is interpreted in context to produce the emotional experience. In revisiting our example involving the venomous snake in your backyard, the two-factor theory maintains that the snake elicits sympathetic nervous system activation that is labeled as fear given the context, and our experience is that of fear.

Figure 2.


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This figure illustrates the major assertions of the James-Lange, Cannon-Bard, and Schachter-Singer two-factor theories of emotion. It is important to point out that Schachter and Singer believed that physiological arousal is very similar across the different types of emotions that we experience, and therefore, the cognitive appraisal of the situation is critical to the actual emotion experienced.

To test their idea, Schachter and Singer performed a clever experiment. Male participants were randomly assigned to one of several groups. Some of the participants received injections of epinephrine that caused bodily changes that mimicked the fight-or-flight response of the sympathetic nervous system; however, only some of these men were told to expect these reactions as side effects of the injection. The other men that received injections of epinephrine were told either that the injection would have no side effects or that it would result in a side effect unrelated to a sympathetic response, such as itching feet or headache.

After receiving these injections, participants waited in a room with someone else they thought was another subject in the research project. In reality, the other person was a confederate of the researcher.

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What Is the Cannon-Bard Theory of Emotion?

When those subjects who were told that they should expect to feel symptoms of physiological arousal were asked about any emotional changes that they had experienced related to either euphoria or anger depending on how their confederate behaved , they reported none. Strong emotional responses are associated with strong physiological arousal. This has led some to suggest that the signs of physiological arousal, which include increased heart rate, respiration rate, and sweating, might serve as a tool to determine whether someone is telling the truth or not.

Theories of Emotion

The assumption is that most of us would show signs of physiological arousal if we were being dishonest with someone. A polygraph , or lie detector test, measures the physiological arousal of an individual responding to a series of questions. Please review our Terms and Conditions of Use and check box below to share full-text version of article.

Abstract Appraisal theories represent an approach to emotion experience focused on the subjective evaluations of affective arousal occurring within a particular circumstance. Related Information.


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