AP Psychology
Unit 10: Motivation & Emotion
Emotion & Emotion Theories

Notes Outline:


  • Overt Expressions
  • Subjective Conscious Experience
  • Physiological Component

Emotional Theories

  • James-Lange Theory
  • Cannon-Bard Theory
  • Schachters Two-Factor Theory
  • Evolutionary Theory

Studying Emotion

Feeling Emotions

  Part ONE: Characteristic Overt Expressions (behavioral component) – body language

  • 6 fundamental emotions – happiness, sadness, anger, fear, surprise, and disgust
  • Can identify MORE than these 6, but are less reliable.
  • FACIAL FEEDBACK HYPOTHESIS – changes in muscles can actually CREATE the feelings. This is why you should smile when you exercise
  • Those that are blind still smile and frown

  PART TWO Subjective conscious experience (cognitive component) – evaluative, each person reacts individually to a situation, usually automatically and subconsciously, and can be “mixed” good with bad. Subjective well-being – causes of happiness

  • AFFECTIVE FORECASTING – we are TERRIBLE at being able to predict emotional states. We can say if we will be happy or sad, but intensity, duration, exact feelings are hard to pin down. Part of this is because we have built in defense mechanisms to insulate us from intense emotions (rationalizing, discounting, overlooking failure and mistakes)

PART THREE Physiological component of emotions bodily arousal – emotions are accompanied by visceral arousal through the actions of the AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM

  • Autonomic arousal – fight or flight response, adrenal hormones
  • Galvanic skin response – increase in electrical conductivity of the skin that occurs when sweat glands increase activity
  • a. Polygraph?
  • Amygdala – part of the LIMBIC SYSTEM, plays a central role in conditioned fears. Information comes from the thalamus to the amygdala and the visual cortex, amygdala can trigger autonomic response faster than you can process what you are seeing
  • Prefrontal cortex – planning and executive control, voluntary emotional reactions
  • Mesolimbic dopamine pathway – experience of pleasurable emotions related to reward. Associated with narcotics like cocaine, but also natural reinforcers like food and sex
  • Mirror neurons – emotions of empathy

Theories of Emotion

    James-Lange theory – conscious experience of emotion results from ones perception of autonomic arousal – YOU ARE FEARFUL BECAUSE YOUR PULSE IS RACING. Different patterns of autonomic arousal lead to the experience of different emotions (AUTONOMIC SPECIFICITY)

Cannon-Bard Theory – emotion occurs when the thalamus sends signals simultaneously to the cortex and to the autonomic nervous system. The cortex creates the conscious experience, the autonomic nervous system creates the visceral

  • i. Problems with James-Lange --> autonomic arousal happens when you exercise but doesn’t make you afraid, visceral changes are too slow to precede conscious emotions, many emotions have indistinguishable emotional reactions

Schachter’s Two-Factor Theory – people look at situational cues to differentiate between alternative emotions – “If I am aroused and you are obnoxious then I must be angry.” Downside is that when people try and explain emotions they look beyond the immediate situation, which his theory does not account for.

  • i. Autonomic arousal
  • ii. Cognitive interpretation of that arousal
  • Evolutionary theories - Emotions evolved as an adaptive advantage – EMOTIONS EVOLVED BEFORE THOUGHT