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Chapter 1

Chapter 1

Course Code
Michelle Hilscher

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Chapter 1 – Approaches to Understanding Emotions
Nineteenth – century founders
Charles Darwin: The evolutionary approach
oPublished book and described how living things have evolved to be adapted to their environments
o1838 – most believe god had given humans special facial muscles that allowed them to express
uniquely human sentiments unknown to animals
Darwin however stated that humans are descended from other species (we are animals)
oHe observed emotional expressions in nonhuman species as well as in adult and infant humans
First to use questionnaires – sent out printed questions to diff cultures
oIn his book he answered 2 main questions
How are emotions expressed in humans and other animals?
Where do our emotions come from?
Concluded that emotional expressions derive largely from habits that in our
evolutionary or individual past had once been useful – reflex like mechanisms
oIn Darwins eye – emotions link us to our past, both the past of our species and to our own
oArgues universality of expressions
William James: The bodily approach
oJames argued against the commonsense idea that when we feel an emotion it impels us to a
certain kind of activity – that if we were to meet a bear in the woods we ould feel frightened and
Instead, James thought that when we perceive the object of fear (bear) as he put it, then
the emotion is the perception of changes of our body as we react to that fact. When we
feel frightened, James thought, what we feel is our heart beating, our skin cold, out
posture frozen or our legs carrying us away as fast as possible
oHis theory is really about the nature of emotional experience – stressed the way in which
emotions move us bodily = core of emotion is the pattern of bodily responses
oHis stance led to contemporary research in 2 important ways:
James stressed that our experience of many emotions (fear to joy etc) is the set of changes
of the autonomic nervous system, part of that system supplies inner organs including the
heart, blood vessels, the stomach and sweat glands. – What are the distinct physio
responses to certain emotions?
Second, James proposed that emotions givecolour and warmth” to experience – without
the effects of emotion everything would be pale
Sigmund Freud: The psychoanalytic approach
oFreud proposed that certain events, usually of a sexual kind, can be so damaging that they leave
psychological scars that can affect the rest of our lives.
oFirst to propose that emotions are at the core of many pathologies – i.e. Katharina diagnosed as
suffering from panic attack
Philosophical and literary approaches
Aristotle: The conceptual approach
oOffered the first systematic analyses of different emotions – most fundamental insight was that
emotions are connected with action
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