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Course Code
Michelle Hilscher

of 6
Chapter 1 - approaches to understanding emotions
Charles Darwin: evolutionary approach
expression of the emotions in man and animals - origins of species - living things
evolved to be adapted to their environments; emotions had functions in our survival
accepted theory in 1838 - God gave humans special facial muscles that allowed them to
express uniquely human sentiments unknown to animals
humans are descended from other species; we are animals; used photographs of
naturalistic and posed expressions to make scientific points
two broad questions - how are emotions expressed in humans and other animals / where
do our emotions come from - habits that in our evolutionary or individual past had once
been useful; reflex-like mechanisms
emotional expressions - continuity of adult human behavioural mechanisms with lower
animals and infancy; vestigial parts of our bodies
appendix - small functionless organ in digestive system; useful to pre-human ancestors
sneering - behavioural vestige of snarling and preparing to bite; functional to ancestors
but no longer used to attack
crying - vestige of screaming in infancy; partially inhibited in adulthood; tears are still
secreted but no longer have any protective function
adult affection - taking those whom we love in our arms; based on parents hugging
young infants
means of communication between the mother and her infant; give vividness and energy
to our spoken words
William James: bodily approach
when we perceive the object of fear (exciting fact) then the emotion is the perception of
changes of our body as we react
core of an emotion is the pattern of bodily responses; if we fancy some strong emotion
and then try to abstract from our consciousness of it all the feelings of its bodily
symptoms, we find we have nothing left behind
our experiences of many emotions, from fear to joy, is the set of changes of the
autonomic nervous system, that part of the nervous system that supplies inner organs
emotions give colour and warmth to experience; without effects of emotions, everything
would be pale
Sigmund Freud: psychoanalytic approach
certain events, usually sexual, can be so damaging that they leave psychological scars
that can affect the rest of our lives
Katharina - suffered from attacks in which she thought she would suffocate; see an
awful face; revealed the face to be her uncles since he was sexually abusing her; found
out that she was not the niece but actually the daughter
emotions are at the core of many pathologies; critical to Richard Lazarus as he
developed his theory of appraisal on the basis of goals; John Bowlbys theory of
Aristotle: conceptual approach
emotions are connected with action; many assume that emotions happen to us outside of
our control; he contended that they depend on what we believe; they are evaluations
people are persuaded when… hearer more likely to believe a good person than a bad one
/ what is said stirs emotions / arguments seems truthful
anger - slight (treated with contempt, or thwarted, or shamed) has occurred causing
impulse to conspicuous revenge without justification
when speaking to persuade, you must know something about the people to whom you
speak, about their values, and about the effects that speaking may have on them
our emotional experiences are shaped by our judgements and evaluations
drama - universal human action, and what can happen when well-intentioned human
actions miscarry; two effects of tragic drama - people are moved emotionally; we
experience catharsis (clarification - clearing away of obstacles to understanding our
Rene Descartes: philosophical approach
passions of the soul - basis for modern neurophysiology, detailed discussion of sensory
and motor nerves, reflexes, and memory
six fundamental emotions - wonder, desire, joy, love, hatred, and sadness; occurs in soul
(thinking aspect of ourselves)
distinguished perceptions (what is important in the outside world) and bodily passions
(important events in the body) from emotions (what is important in our souls; real
selves, goals, concerns, identities)
cannot be entirely controlled by thinking; can be regulated by thoughts especially true
thoughts; depended on how we evaluate events
emotions are usually functional; but can sometimes be dysfunctional
Hippocrates & Galen - disease causes imbalance in four humours - blood gives rise to
hope and vigour (sanguine); phlegm gives rise to placidity (phlegmatic); yellow bile
gives rise to anger (choleric); black bile gives rise to despair (melancholy)
George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans): literary approach
emotional experience and its place in intimate relationships
Westminster Review - review of two books by von Riehl; readers extend sympathies
Middlemarch - portrays experience from inside the persons own consciousness; have
aspirations and plans but are affected by unforeseeable accidents of life; emotions can
act as a sort of compass; principal means by which people affect each other
ounderstanding of emotions are different from those of other people; capability of
thought and emotion; which store motives, are actual or hinted that give promise of
a better after
Walter Cannon and Walter Hess: brain science
Cannon - argued against William James - brain lesions - trepidation - if viscera was
responsible for emotions conduction; damage should reduce emotions
believed transaction of neural pathways had striking effects on emotions; damaged
cerebral cortex in cats revealed intense emotions; cortex inhibit lower regions where
emotions reside?
Damasio - used brain imaging studies to find emotions derives from sub-cortical regions
not cortex
Hess - electrically stimulating sub-cortical areas of the brain to induce well-coordinated
patterns of response, propensities characteristics of emotions
oinsulated wires one hundredth of an inch in diameter to use as electrodes;
maps brain
oimplanted into one region of the hypothalamus in cats; heart speeded up, cat
becomes alert and aroused, continuation would cause anger and violent behaviour
oaffective defence reaction - attacks nearest person in experiment (one region
responsible for fighting or fleeing)
oanother region - slowed heart, induced calmness and drowsiness
oneighbouring areas of hypothalamus - well-coordinated, recognizable,
emotional responses characteristic of the species
areas of the brain (hypothalamus and limbic systems) are lower - prominent in animals
that emerged earlier in vertebrate evolution; associated with emotions