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Chapter 5

Chapter 5 Textbook


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYC18H3
Professor
Gerald Cupchik
Chapter
5

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Chapter 5: Bodily Changes and Emotion
William James contended that an emotionally exciting fact provokes bodily responses,
which in turn lead to the experience of emotion
My thesis is that the bodily changes follow directly the perception of the exciting fact, and
that our feeling of the same changes as they occur is the emotion
That every emotion, from anger to sympathy to the rapturous delight of hearing a favorite
musician, involves a distinct bodily reverberation detected by the autonomic nervous
system and by neural signals from the workings of our muscles
The autonomic nervous system
Neural signals from the cortex communicate with the limbic system and the hypothalamus
These brain regions send signals through clusters of neurons of the autonomic nervous
system to the target organs, glands, muscles, and blood vessels
These structures, in turn, send signals back via the autonomic nervous system to the
hypothalamus, limbic system, and cortex
The autonomic nervous system most general function is to maintain the internal condition of
the body, to enable adaptive response to varying environmental events
Parasympathetic branch: helps with the restorative processes, reducing heart rate and
blood pressure and increasing digestive processes
Sympathetic branch: increases heart rate, blood pressure, and cardiac output and shuts
down digestive processes, to help the individual to engage in physically demanding actions
The autonomic nervous system maintains the inner environment of the body, to enable the
individuals adaptive response to varying external environmental events
oIt controls processes such as digestion, body fluids, blood flow, and temperature
The system is also closely associated with various behaviors with direct relevance to
emotion, including defensive behavior, sexual behavior, and aggression
The systems two branches originate in different parts of the spinal cord and that are
controlled by different neurotransmitters
The parasympathetic and sympathetic branches
The parasympathetic autonomic nervous system incorporates nerves that originate in two
different parts of the spinal cord: the vagus nerve, at the top of the spinal cord, and in the
sacral region near the bottom of the spinal cord
oThis system decreases heart rate and blood pressure
oEssential to the sexual response
oIt stimulates the secretion of various fluids throughout the body, including those in
the digestive glands, salivation, and tears
The sympathetic system involves over a dozen different neural pathways originating at
several sites on the spinal cord
oMost typically acts in the opposite way from the parasympathetic system
oIt increases heart rate, blood pressure, and cardiac output
oShuts down digestive processes
oMay be part of certain emotional responses that involve goose-bumps
oAlso increases many processes that provide energy for the body
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oMany have argued that this system helps prepare the body for fight or flight
responses
Two support for Jamess claims regarding autonomic specificity and emotion:
o1. There are over a dozen distinct autonomic pathways that activate different
regions of the body. So different emotions could potentially be involved with distinct
pathways in the autonomic nervous system
o2. One can imagine many different ways in which components of the autonomic
system could combine, including heart rate, blood flow to the skin, sweating,
production of tears, stomach activity, and breathing
Cannons critique of autonomic specificity
Cannon proposed instead that bodily changes are produced by the brain, and that they are
similar during different emotions such as anger and fear
Proposed that quite different emotions involved exactly the same general activation of the
sympathetic nervous system
Arousal response includes release of the hormone adrenaline
oThe effects of this sympathetic-adrenal response are a shift of bodily resources to
prepare for action, including fight, flight, and sexual behavior
Cannon criticizes Jamess autonomic specificity thesis by 1) arguing that the responses of
the autonomic nervous system (changes of heart rate, breathing, sweat responses, etc) are
too diffuse and nonspecific to account for the distinct varieties of emotional experience
oThe specificity and nuance of different emotions was to be found not in the body, but
in the brain
2) That autonomic responses are too slow to account for the rapidity with which we
experience emotion, or move from one emotion to another
oCannon contended that the experience of emotion arises more quickly than
autonomic activity
3) That the main actions of the autonomic nervous system, actually occur in a variety of
other states, such as fevers, cold exposure, or asphyxia
oe.g. love and fevers having the same autonomic patterning
oJamess hypothesized that each emotion is associated with a distinct autonomic
pattern
Questioned whether our sensitivity to change in the autonomic nervous system is refined
enough to result in the many emotional states we experience
Argued that for the most part we are insensitive to autonomic sensations
oThey are simply too inaccessible or dull to give rise to emotional experience
The two-factor theory of emotion
How people construe emotional situations as the source of different emotional experiences
One important component of an emotional experience within this theory is
undifferentiated physiological arousal
Schachter and Singer assumed that a single type of general arousal is associated with very
different emotions
oe.g. injecting their participants with adrenaline and how their responses vary in
terms of whether the experimenters accomplice was euphoric or angry
The theory added to the interest on appraisal
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