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Lecture 7

PSY100H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 7: Facial Action Coding System, Simon Baron-Cohen, Autonomic Nervous System

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Paul Whissell

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April Liu PSY100
7 Emotion, Motivation, and Personality
What is “Emotion”?
A brief conscious experience associated with...
o Intense mental activity
o A high degree of pleasure/displeasure
o Physical responses (such as facial expressions)
o Physiological states, occur via activation of autonomic nervous system (ANS)
It is adaptive and tied to specific behaviours
o E.g. love + social interaction, fear + survival responses, guilt + penance, disgust
§ Things you fear often help you survive
§ Guilt/sadness may motivate you to change your behaviour
§ Disgust can help us avoid (socially) unacceptable behaviours
The ability to control emotions (emotional regulation) may affect your life significantly
Why Have Emotions?
Emotions may be preferred for decision-making if:
o There is a lack of time – for very quick decisions, “go with your gut”
o There is a lack of information
o There are too many options
How Many Emotions are There?
Ekman’s theory proposes six basic emotions
o Angry, afraid, surprised, happy, sad, disgusted
Each emotion is tied to a readily identifiable facial expression
Emotion by Culture
Certain facial expressions (e.g. smile)
may have different meanings in
different cultures
o Smiles are seen as rewarding
in North American cultures
o Smiles show dominance in
Asian cultures
Emotional suppression may be evident in some cultures
o Collectivist cultures tend to have higher suppression (e.g. HK, Japan, China)
Facial Action Coding System (FACS)
Different aspects of your facial expression may combine to generate unique emotional
expressions (e.g. brow raise/lower, upper lid raise, lower lid tighten, lip stretch, jaw drop)
Our interaction with others depends on our ability to read facial expressions!!!
Reading the Mind Through the Eyes
Test asks if you can you tell emotions just by looking at someone’s eyes?
People with autism or other social disorders may perform poorly on this test!

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April Liu PSY100
Facial Feedback Hypothesis
If emotion influences facial expression, can facial expression influence emotion?
In a study, people forced to smile (holding a pen in their mouth) rated cartoons as funnier
Later efforts to replicate this study failed à suggests facial expressions have weak to
negligible effect on mood
Nonverbal Cues to Emotion
Facial expressions
Body appearance
Body language
May vary with culture (except facial expression)
Body Language and Emotion
Cuddy’s research suggested that certain postures (power poses) changed risk-taking
behaviour, emotion, and physiology
o Men = less cortisol + more testosterone
In the picture
o Top row = high power body language
o Bottom row = low power body language
Study was intriguing but hard to replicate
Subsequent reports show power poses affect
self-perception (feelings of power) only
o Doesn’t affect physiological responses + risk-taking behaviour
Theory now is controversial!
This situation (+ facial feedback hypothesis) remind us replication is key in science!
Emotions – Plutchik
8 emotions (instead of the 6 shown in
Ekman’s model) that exist in opposed pairs
o Joy vs sadness
o Trust vs disgust
o Fear vs anger
o Surprise vs apprehension
Emotions interact to create other states as
Cognition-Emotion Interactions
Many influential theories have been put
forward emphasizing the importance of
cognition in emotion
Cognitive appraisal: cognitive
interpretation that comes with an emotion
Russel’s theory of emotion: emotion influenced by cognitive interpretations of a
physiological state

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April Liu PSY100
Russel’s Theory of Emotion
Emotions graphed on a cartesian axis of valence
(unpleasant-pleasant on x-axis) and activation (mild-
intense on y-axis)
Similar techniques are used to classify the dimensions
of words in the dictionary of affect
Theories of Emotional Processing
Have only discussed what varieties of emotion might
exist (via the theories of Ekman, Plutchik and Russell)
Worth discussing how emotions arise and how they
are linked to physiological states!
Three major theories of emotional processing:
(1) James-Lange theory: an event increases physiological arousal which in turn creates
o E.g. “I’m blushing I must be in love”
o If true à each emotion would have a very
unique arousal
(2) Cannon-Bard theory: an event elicits
physiological arousal and emotion separately via
distinct pathways
(3) Schacter-Singer two factor theory: an event
elicits cognitive appraisal and physiological arousal,
which together produce emotion
o Like Russell’s theory, this acknowledges the importance of cognition in emotion
Cognition in Emotion
Remember cognitive perceptions are not always accurate
Importantly, cognitive appraisal of emotions can be incorrect
Misattribution: when a person may be unable to properly identify the source of their
emotion (sometimes during intense periods of arousal)
o A cause of misattribution may be excitation transfer
People were giving an emotionally arousing
stimulus (safe vs scary bridge)
Interviewer gave number if participant had
any questions
People who went to the arousing bridge
frequently called the interviewer
o Mistook fear as excitement/romance
Excitation Transfer Theory
The intensity of one emotion may be transferred to another that comes in sequence
o E.g. rioting after sports victory, relief after horror movie, aggression after workout
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