Cognition & Emotion Final Essay Questions
1. Can someone be in love with his/her spouse and still not be faithful? Based on
what you read and what we discussed in class, what do you think? (Use science to
justify your answer, and include physiology as well as other factors in your response)
Yes, a person can be in love with their spouse and not be faithful to them if their love is a
passionate love. Unlike romantic love- which emphasizes emotional attachment,
intimacy, and long-term commitment- passionate love only motivates proximity seeking
in order to initiate sexual activity. It is driven by gonadal estrogens and androgens,
which serve to mediate sexual desire. The neurochemicals that play a role in bonding
and attachment (Oxytocin, vasopressin, and endogenous opioids) are not involved in
passionate love; these are associated with romantic love. Romantic love and passionate
love have distinct physiological profiles, and while they are both defined as “love,” they
serve two separate motivational functions. Studies have shown that these two types of
love can exist independently of one another, which means it is possible to feel
passionate love for a person without romantic love. Although passionate love has a
tendency to transform into romantic love over time, if the couple were to become married
during the passionate love phase, then unfaithfulness is a possibility. If the person feels
passionate love towards their spouse, then their main objective is reproduction. They
may lack the Oxytocin/ vasopressin levels that would compel them to stay faithful to their
2. From your reading, you learned that risky families are related to HPA or SAM
dysfunction. Select one of these axes (either the HPA or SAM axis). Define it, explain
how being in a risky family (define risky families) alters its activity, and discuss what
emotional experiences and health outcomes are related to this dysregulation.
The HPA axis allows the body to respond to stress by preparing for short-term demands.
When triggered, the hypothalamus releases CRH, which causes the pituitary gland to
secrete adrenocorticotropic hormone, which causes the adrenal cortex to release
Cortisol. HPA functioning may be disrupted in children from risky families (defined as
families high in conflict and aggression, or families that are cold/ unsupportive/
neglectful) due their constant exposure to stress repeatedly activating the system. In
healthy individuals, Cortisol levels are typically highest in the morning and eventually
decrease through the day. Children who were maltreated had elevated Cortisol levels in
the afternoon, while maltreated and depressed children had lower Cortisol levels in the
morning that rose in the afternoon. A study found that the stress felt by children from
authoritarian (low warmth, high control) families may interfere with the HPA axis and lead
to increased CRH and Cortisol levels. These dysregulations can have long-term effects,
and have been associated with immune deficiencies, inhibited growth, delayed sexual
maturity, damage to the hippocampus, cognitive impairment, and depression.
3. From your readings, name two emotion regulation strategies that vary in their
effectiveness. Define each of them and compare them to one another.
Situation selection is an antecedent-focused emotion regulation strategy that involves
choosing one situation over another. This strategy is initiated before an individual experiences physiological and behavioral changes caused by their response tendencies.
For instance, choosing to stay home and watch a movie instead of going to a party
where you know you will run into people that you dislike is a form of situation selection.
This is the most effective form of emotion regulation, as it allows individuals to avoid
negative emotions completely by avoiding the situations that can lead to those negative
emotions. Another form of emotion regulation is response modulation, which is a
response-focused emotional regulation strategy. This strategy is initiated after a
response has been fully elicited, and it attempts to influence the response in some way.
Suppression is a type of response modulation, and it involves hiding any outward signs
of emotion. This is not a very effective form of emotional regulation, as it does not
actually change the individual’s emotional experience; it only changes outside
perceptions of their emotions. An example of this is hiding your embarrassment after
tripping and falling in front of a group of people. Hiding the embarrassment would not
make you feel any less embarrassed. In fact, studies have shown that suppression can
actually increase physiological reactivity and is cognitively costly.
4. How does emotion regulation change across adulthood? In your description,
describe some aspects that improve with age, and other aspects that may decline
with age. Base your responses on the reading.
As adults age, their experienced emotions become more predictable, and negative
emotions become more infrequent. Results regarding the negative affect in those over
60 are more inconsistent, but even if there are declines in positive affect, they are very
slight. Overall, older adults report higher levels of well-being than younger adults. This
may be due in part to the emphasis that older adults place on emotion-related goals,
which- according to the socioemotional selectivity theory- is caused by their shrinking
time horizons. They know that their time is limited, so they focus on emotion and