Theories of Emotion
Emotion is a complex, subjective experience that is
accompanied by biological and behavioral changes.
Charles Darwin proposed that emotional expressions are
hard-wired and that emotions evolved because they had adaptive
- Current evolutionary theorists believe that emotions are innate.
- The James-Lange theory states that people experience emotion
because they perceive their bodies’ physiological responses to external events.
- The Cannon-Bard theory states that the experience of emotion
and the accompanying physiological arousal happen at the same time.
Schachter and Singer’s
two-factor theory states that people’s experience of emotion
depends on physiological arousal and the cognitive interpretation of that
- People’s experience of emotion depends on how they evaluate their
The Biological Bases of Emotion
- Emotion involves activation of the brain and the autonomic nervous
- Information about emotion-evoking events moves along two pathways in the
- The pathway that goes to the amygdala allows people to
respond rapidly to events.
- The pathway that goes to the cortex allows people to appraise
events more slowly.
- Researchers use autonomic responses to measure emotion.
- The polygraph, or lie detector, is a device that detects
changes in autonomic arousal. It is often inaccurate in determining whether or
not a person is lying.
- Different emotions differ in pattern of brain activation,
neurotransmitters released, and autonomic nervous system
Expression of Emotion
- People worldwide can identify six primary emotions:
happiness, sadness, anger,
fear, surprise, and disgust.
- The facial-feedback hypothesis states that the brain uses
feedback from facial muscles to recognize emotions that are being experienced.
- The two genders express different amounts of emotion. This difference
depends on gender roles, culture, and context.
Emotion and Culture
- People in different cultures can identify six basic emotions.
- There are universal physiological indicators of emotion.
- People in different cultures categorize emotions differently.
- Different cultures consider different emotions to be primary.
- The same situation may evoke different emotions in different cultures.
- Nonverbal expressions of emotion differ across cultures.
Cultural norms determine how and when to display emotions
that are not actually felt.
Subjective well-being depends more on attitudes toward
circumstances than on the circumstances themselves.
- Circumstances such as social support, marriage, job satisfaction, and religiosity are positively
correlated with happiness.
- Happiness tends to depend on people’s expectations of life and on the way they compare themselves to others.