Course: PSYC*1000 (DE)
Professor: Harvey Marmurek
Schedule: Summer, 2012
Textbook: Psychology – Tenth Edition in Modules authored by David G. Myers
Textbook ISBN: 9781464102615
Module 35: Introduction to Emotion
Cognition and Emotion
How do arousal and expressive behaviours interact in emotion?
Emotions are a mix of bodily, arousal (heart pounding), expressive behaviours, and conscious
experience. How do these pieces fit together?
- Does your bodily arousal come before or after your emotional feelings?
- How do thinking (cognition) and feeling interact? Does cognition always come before
Historical Emotion Theories
• James-Lange Theory: Arousal Comes Before Emotion
o Cry because we are sad, lash out because we are angry, tremble because we are
afraid. William James has things backward. We feel sorry because we cry, angry
because we strike, afraid because we tremble. Carl Lange (Danish physiologist).
James and Lange would say that I noticed my heart racing and then shaking with
fright, felt the whoosh of emotion. Feeling of fear followed body’s response.
• Cannon-Bard Theory: Arousal and Emotion Occur Simultaneously
o Physiologist Walter Cannon (1871-1945)
o Philip Bard
o Bodily responses and experienced emotions occur separately but simultaneously
o Means – my heart began pounding as I experienced fear
The emotion-triggering stimulus traveled to my sympathetic nervous
system, causing my body’s arousal. At the same time, it traveled to my
brain’s cortex, causing my awareness of my emotion.
o Challenged by studies of people with severed spinal cords
Lower-spine injuries – reported little change in their emotions’ intensity
High spinal cord injury – reported changes; some reactions were much
less intense than before; but those emotions felt above the neck were
more intense (crying, lumps in throat)
o Most researchers now agree that our emotions also involve cognition
According to the Cannon-Bard theory, (a) our physiological response to a stimulus (for example, a
pounding heart) and (b) the emotion we experience (for example, fear) occur (simultaneously).
According to the James-Lange theory (a) and (b) occur (sequentially).
Cognition Can Define Emotion: Schachter and Singer
To experience emotions, must we consciously interpret and label them?
Stanley Schachter and Jerome Singer (1962)
• An emotional experience requires a conscious interpretation of arousal: Our physical
reactions and our thoughts (perceptions, memories, and interpretations) together create
• Two-factor theory – emotions have two ingredients: physical arousal and cognitive
appraisal. • How does receiving good news affect your previous mood (finishing a run, bad day or
waking from a nap)
• Spillover effect – injected college men with hormone epinephrine; placebo or real effects?
Catching the emotion of the other person in the waiting room.
• Daniel Gilbert noted: Feelings that one interprets as fear in the presence of a sheer drop
may be interpreted as lust in the presence of a sheer blouse.
• Arousal fuels emotion; cognition channels it
According to Schachter and Singer, two factors lead to our experience of an emotion: (1)
physiological arousal and (2) cognitive appraisal.
Cognition May Not Precede Emotion: Zajonc, LeDoux, and Lazarus
Is the heart always subject to the mind?
• Fruit flavoured drink drank 50% more after subliminally seeing happy face than those
seeing neutral face; those seeing angry face drank substantially less
• Joseph LeDoux (2002) says our emotions take the ‘low road’ – a neutral shortcut that travel
from the eye or ear (again via the thalamus) directly to the amygdala. This shortcut,
bypassing the cortex, enables our greased-lightning emotional response before our
intellect intervenes. Like speedy reflexes that also operate apart from the brain’s thinking
cortex, the amygdala reactions are so fast that we may be unaware of what’s transpired.
• The amygdala send more neural projections up to the cortex than it receives back, which
makes it easier for our feelings to hijack our thinking than for our thinking to rule our
feelings. **sound of a bush moving – up to cortex to decide if it was a snake or the wind;
Zajonc’s belief that some of our emotional reactions invoke no deliberate thinking.
• Richard Lazarus (emotional researcher) brains process vast amounts of info without our
conscious awareness, and that some emotional responses do not require conscious
thinking. Much of our emotional life operaes via the automatic, speedy low road. But, he
asked, how would we know what we are reacting to if we did not in some way appraise the
situation? Emotions arise when we appraise an event as harmless or dangerous, whether
we truly know it is or not.
Two pathways for emotions: Zajonc and LeDoux have emphasized that some emotional responses
are immediate, before any conscious appraisal. Lazarus, Schachter, and Singer emphasized that
our appraisal and labelling of events also determine our emotional responses. Neuroscientists are
charting the neural pathways of both ‘bottom-up’ and ‘top-down’ emotions.
Zajonc/LeDoux = Emotional Response Appraisal Event
Lazarus/Schachter/Singer = Emotional Response Event Appraisal
Zajonc and LeDoux – demonstrated that some emotional responses – especially simple likes,
dislikes and fears – involve no conscious thinking.
Lazarus, Schachter and Singer – predicted, our memories, expectations, and interpretations also
influence our feelings about politics; may personalize events as being somehow directed at them,
and they may generalize their experiences by blowing single incidents out of proportion. Thus,
learning to think more positively can help people feel better.
Summary of Emotion Theories
Theory Explanation of Emotions Example
James-Lange Our awar