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Chapter 13: Emotion and Personality
February 20, 2012
•Emotions: Can be defined in 3 components: (1) emotions have distinct subjective feelings or
affects associated with them; (2) emotions are accompanied by bodily changes, mostly in the
nervous system and these produce associated changes in breathing, heart rate, muscle tension,
blood chemistry and facial and body expressions; (3) emotions are accompanied by distinct action
tendencies or increases in the probabilities of certain behaviours.
•Action Tendencies: Increase in the probabilities of certain behaviours that accompany emotions.
The activity or action tendency, associated with fear for example is to flee or to flight.
•Functional Analysis: In the expressions of the emotion in the man and animal. Charles
Darwin proposed a functional analysis of emotions and emotions expressions focusing on the
“why” of emotions and expressions. Darwin concluded that emotional expressions communicate
information from one animal to another about what is likely to happen. For instance, a dog baring
his teeth, growling and bristling the fur on its back is communicating to others that he is likely to
attack. If others recognize the dogs communication they may choose to back away to safety.
Issues in Emotion Research
•Emotional State: Transitory states that depend more on the situation or circumstances a person is
in than on the specific person. Emotions as states have a specific cause, and that cause is typically
outside of the person (something happens in the environment)
•Example of emotional state is that a man is angry because he was unfairly treated
•Emotional Traits: Stable personality that are primarily characterized by specific emotions. For
example, the trait of neuroticism is primarily characterized by the emotions of anxiety and worry.
•Pattern of emotional experiences is stable over time and characteristic for each person
•Emotional research can be divided into 2 camps based on the answers to the following question:
what is the best way to think about emotions? Categorical Approach: Suggests emotions are best
thought of as a small number of primary and distinct emotions (anger, joy, sadness)
•Another view point suggests that emotions are a broad dimensions of experience (pleasant and
•Primary emotions are thought to be the irreducible set of emotions, combinations of which result
in the huge variety of experienced emotions
•Table 13.1 (Page 401) Provides a selection of theorists and the primary emotions
•Ekman requires that a primary emotion have a distinct facial expression that is recognized across
•Izard suggests that the primary emotions are distinguished by their unique motivational properties
(motivation to take specific actions)
•Dimensional Approach: Researchers gather data by having subjects rate themselves on a wide
variety of emotions, then apply statistical techniques to identify the basic dimensions unerlying
the ratings. Almost all the studies show that subjects categorize emotions using just two primary
dimensions: how pleasant or unpleasant the emotion is and how high or low on arousal the
•Dimensional approach to emotion refers more to how people experience their emotions than to
how you think about their emotions.
Content Versus Style of Emotional Life
•Distinction between the content of a person's emotional life and the style with which that person
experiences and expresses emotion
•Content: the specific kind of emotion that a person experiences
•Style: the way in which an emotion is expressed
•Content of emotional life means the typical emotions a person is likely to experience over time.
For example, someone characterized as an angry, hot tempered person should have an emotional
life that contains a good deal of anger and hostility.
•In a list of primary emotions, happiness and joy are typically the only ones mentioned
•Aristotle said that happiness was the supreme good and that the goal of life was to attain
happiness. He taught that happiness was attained by living a virtuous life and being a good
•Jean-Jacques Rousseau speculated that the road to happiness lies in the satisfaction of ones
desires and the hedonistic pursuit of pleasure.
•William James taught that happiness was the ratio of ones accomplishments to ones aspirations.
- Can achieve happiness by accomplishing more in life or by lowering ones aspiration.
•One way to measure happiness is though questionaires and surveys. Some of these questions
focus on judgements about ones life such as “How satisfied are you with your life as a whole?”
while others focus on emotions asking questions such as “what percent of the time are you
•Data indicated that among college students, people are happy 65% of the time, neutral 15% of the
time and unhappy 20% of the time
•Researchers conceive of happiness in two complementary ways: (1) in terms of judgement that
life is satisfying and (2) in terms of the predominance of positive compared with negative
emotions in ones life
•Peoples emotional lives and the judgements of how satisfied they are with their lives are highly
•Positive Illusions: Some researchers believe that part of being happy is to have positive illusions
about the self- an inflated view of ones own characteristics as a good, able, and desirable person.
•Seidlitz and Diener (1993) found that happy people recall more pleasant events and fewer
unpleasant events, than did the unhappy people.
•Happy people are less abusive and hostile, are less self- focused and report fewer instances of
diseases. They are also more helpful and cooperative, have more social skills and are more
creative and energetic, are more forgiving and trusting.
•Researchers assumption is that successful outcomes foster happiness and that the causal direction
goes from being successful leading to increase happiness.
•However recently researchers questioned this assumption and suggested that causality goes in the
opposite direction, from happiness to success. For example, it could be that being happy leads to
one getting married.
•Two kinds of studies are useful in showing direction: (1) Longitudinal: people are measured on at
least two occasions separated in time; (2) Experimental: in which happiness is manipulated.
•Both Longitudinal studies and Experimental studies provided evidence that happiness leads to or
at least come before positive outcomes in many areas of life.
•Reciprocal Causality: The notion that causality can move in two directions.
•Haring,Stock and Okun (1984) analyzed 146 studies on global well beings and found that gender
accounted for less than 1% of the variation in peoples happiness.
•Inglehart (1990) found that circumstances that make people happy change at difference ages. For