Communication in Everyday Life Lecture – October 18th, 2013
Emotions in Communication – The cognitive Unconscious and Conscious Mind
Emotions and Feelings
Our body and our conscious mind always have 3 levels of reaction
1. Emotions – biochemical response to changes: instant (+) or (-)
2. Non-verbal reactions to those bio chemical shifts
3. Cognitive interpretations of these reactions known as feelings
Our two minds Interacting
The cognitive unconscious (the body-mind) communicates using biochemical
energy (somatic Markers) – “Emotions”
o Through them we become conscious pay of stimuli, retrieve
information from memory, sort out our perceptions, and decide
o They fuel our actions
o The fuel and the encoding tool of the cognitive unconscious.
We’ve already said the cognitive unconscious and it’s emotions help the
conscious mind decide – more than that
But we will also discuss how these bio-chemical surges emerge from the
wordless levels of our mind into our conscious internal chatter
o To be interpreted and named as feelings
o So they can shape our actual thoughts and way of thinking about our
Emotions and Cognition Separated for Millenia
Feelings are dangerous
o “Rule your feelings, lest your feelings rule you” (Publius Syrus, 1
Emotion wasn’t studied really until 1990s. Because we spent 3000 years
denying their importance
Feelings are always less than thoughts
Rationality is seen as everything
“I think therefore I am” (Rene Descartes 1630s)
“Emotions cause a complete loss of cerebral control [and contain] no trace of
conscious purpose” (P.T Young 1936)
The emotions are of quite extraordinary importance in the total economy of
living organisms and do not deserve being put into opposition with
‘intelligence’. The emotions are, it seems, themselves a high order of
intelligence” (1960….now a new way of thinking) Shifting our Model of Feelings
Our culture provides us with a “common sense” model of feeling
Something happens in the environment – context – we notice it
consciously and then respond physiologically with an emotion.
Something happens out there, I go “oh my god” and I get frightened.
This is not actually the way it works.
Do we notice things first or do our bodies notice them first?
A new hypothesis:
o Our body-mind has an Affective Appraisal System
Something happens outside of us and our body reacts first –
a state of Diffuse Physiological Arousal (DPA)
Then our conscious mind notices the arousal, and seeks to
answer a name for why we are aroused.
Matches our internal state of arousal to the situation.
Something happens, we don’t notice it at the conscious
level, our body notices first, then we notice the general
level with excitement, etc.
Real World Research
When we are in a state of DPA not only does our conscious mind look
outward to explain why – but it finds a self-enhancing reason
The researches’ hypothesis was that strong emotions are re-labelled as
sexual attraction when two conditions are met:
a. An acceptable object is present (a good-looking female), and
b. The emotion-producing circumstances do not require the full
attention of the individual – your life is not at stake
c. The men come off the bridge when they’re in a state of high
The swinging bridge data showed that subjects on the swinging bridge
expressed double amount of sexual content in their “creative” story than
people on the solid bridge.
The men were in full DPA – their conscious brain found a “logical” answer to
it – it must be sexual attraction to the expiramenter – not fear
Summary: Where Feelings Come From
Emotions begin as instant bio-chemical responses to changes in our
environment: instant positive or negative evaluations, which produce,
o Rapid bodily reactions to those bio-chemical shifts (changes of
breathing, sweat, muscle tension, etc.)
o The conscious brain – the left frontal lob