Chapter 1 textbook notes on Understanding Emotions

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16 Feb 2011
Chapter 1
x Over 2000 years, many have argued that emotions are base and destructive
x More novel reaches of human nature are achieved when passions are controlled by reasons.
x Perils of particular emotions: Anger as destructive to the self and to social relations.
x Emotions as having important functions especially in our social lives.
Nineteenth-century founders (Darwin, James, Freud)
Darwin : evolutionary approach
x Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals
x Humans as being descended from other species: we are not only closer to animals than had been thought,
but we ourselves are animals
x Normal vs. Abnormal
x Two questions
o How are emotions expressed in humans and other animals?
o Where do our emotions come from?
x Concluded that emotional expressions derive largely from habits that in our evolutionary or individual past
had once been useful.
o Analogous triggers of habits ± ex: Tears that do not function to lubricate eyes
x Emotional expressions showed the continuity of adult human behavioral mechanisms with those of lower
animals and with those of infancy; vestigal parts of our bodies.
o Sneering ± linked to snarling and preparing to bite
o Crying ± links to infancy, vestige of screaming in infancy. When adults cry, they still secrete tears
but have no longer any protective function
x Argued for the universality of emotion
William James: the bodily approach
x Argued against the idea that when we feel an emotion, it impels us to a certain kind of activity.
x Instead, when we perceive an object of fear, for example, the emotion is the perception of changes of our
body as we react to the fact.
x Ex: When we feel frightened, we feel our heart beating, our skin cold, our posture frozen, etc.
x Theory is on the nature of emotional experience.
x Emotion as a pattern of bodily responses and changes
x Emotions gives us color and warmth to experience ± it affects our perceptions
Sigmund Freud: the psychoanalytic approach
x Proposed that certain events (usually of a sexual kind) can be damaging that they leave psychological scars
that can affect the rest of our lives.
x One of the first to argue that emotions are at the core of many pathologies
x Freud to Richard Lazarus ± development of theory of appraisal on the basis of goals
x Freud to Bowlby ± development of theory of attachment
Philosophical and literary approaches (Aristotle, Descartes, Elliot)
Aristotle: the conceptual approach
x Emotions are connected with action
x Emotions depend on what we believe, that they are evaluations. We are responsible for our emotions
because we are responsible for our beliefs and valuations of the world.
x Rhetoric book ± how do we persuade others? Three principles:
o 1) A hearer is more likely to believe a good person that a bad one.
o 2) People are persuaded when what is said stirs their emotions
o 3) People are persuaded by arguments that seem truthful.
x Emotion is defined cognitively, in terms of knowledge ± A slight has occurred. To be slighted is to be treated
with contempt, or thwarted, or shamed.
x Rhetoric as a search for truth, by speaking and discussion.
x 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.
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