Chapter 1.docx

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27 Apr 2012
Chapter 1 Approaches to Understanding Emotions
19th Century Founders
3 theorists Darwin, James and Freud, laid foundations for not just understanding emotions, but whole fields respectively of
evolutionary biology, psych and psychotherapy
DARWIN- Evolutionary Approach
1872 Darwin, central figure of modern bio, published most important book on emotions ever Expression of Emotions in Man
and Animals
Origin of Species described how living things have evolved to be adapted to environments
Began writing notes on emotions in 1838
o At time, accepted theory was God gave humans special facial muscles that allowed them to express uniquely human
sentiments unknown to animals
Central tenet of Darwin theory, was that humans are descended from other species not only closer to animals that thought, but
humans are animals
Observed emotional expressions in nonhuman species as well as adult and infant humans
Developed new methods, realizing importance of cross cultural study. Was one of first to use questionnaires sent set of printed
questions to missionaries and others
o Received 36 replies
Was one of first to use photographs of naturalistic and posed expressions to make scientific points
In book of emotions, asked 2 questions that guide emotion research today
o How are emotions expressed in humans and other animals?
o Where do our emotions come from?
Concluded that emotional expression derive largely from habits that in evolutionary or individual past had once been useful
Emotional expressions showed continuity of adult human behavioural mechanisms with those of lower animals and with those of
Thought emotional expressions were like vestigial parts of our bodies.
Darwin argued that sneering, an expression in which we uncover teeth or one side, is behavioural vestige of snarling, and of
preparing to bite
Traced other expressions to infancy crying, is vestige of screaming in infancy, though in adulthood, partly inhibited
o When adults cry, still secrete tears but argued that tears no longer have protective function
Suggested that patterns of adult affection, of taking those whom we love in our arms, are based on patterns of parents hugging
Emotions link us to past, both past of species and own infancy
o In making argument, he would shape contemporary study of emotions
o Helped provide descriptions of facial expressions
Argued for universality of expressions, and uncommon view at time
Thought that emotions have useful functions too
WILLIAM JAMES The Bodily Approach
Wrote The Principles of Psychology (1890)
Argued against commonsense idea that when we feel emotion it impels us to certain kind of activity that if we were to meet
bear in woods, feel frightened
o James thought that when we perceive object of fear, “exciting fact”, then ...
o emotion = perception of changes of our body as we react to that fact
James’s theory is about nature of emotional experience stressed way in which emotions move us bodily
Core of emotion = pattern of bodily responses
Vital point about embodied nature of emotion is captured in this idea of James
James stressed that experience of emotions, is set of changes of autonomic nervous system, that part of nervous system that
supplies inner organs
Thought that changes from movements of muscles and joints were parts of felt bodily changes
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o Anticipates central interest in study of emotions
James proposed that emotions give color and warmth to experience
o Without effects of emotions, everything would be pale
SIGMUND FREUD The Psychoanalytic Approach
Proposed that certain events, usually of sexual kind, can be so damaging that they leave psychological scars that can affect rest
of our lives
Principal exposition was in series of short case studies
Came across Katharina, who was experience of attacks (anxiety) and aim of therapy was to discover how attacks had started
o Katharina maintained that face she saw was a man’s face
o Nausea and vomiting was because she felt disgusted when she looked into room of her uncle and cousin
Says meaning of case had become clear carried two sets of experiences, of uncle’s attempts on her, and goings-on between
uncle and Franziska (cousin)
Was one of first to argue that emotions are at core of many pathologies
Katharina would now be diagnosed as suffering from panic attacks
o We see elements of psychoanalytic therapy as it has developed
Theories were critical to Richard Lazarus as he developed theory of appraisal on basis of goals
It was Freud’s work that prompted Bowlby to develop theory of attachment between infant its mother
Philosophical and Literary Approaches
Darwin, James and Freud laid important foundations, but they were not first in Western tradition to think about emotions
ARISTOTLE: Conceptual Approach
Offered some of first systematic analyses of different emotions
Most fundamental insight was emotions are connected with actions
Many assume emotions happen to us outside of control, contended that they depend on what we believe they’re evaluations,
so we’re responsible for our emotions because we are responsible for our beliefs and valuations of world
In Rhetoric, he had practical concerns how do we persuade others? Offered 3 principles
o Hearer is more likely to believe good person than bad one
o People are persuaded when what is said stirs their emotions
o People are persuaded by arguments that seem truthful
Emotion is defined cognitively, in terms of knowledge that a slight has occurred
Makes it clear that he isn’t interested in arousing emotions to sway people irrationally
Conceives rhetoric as search for truth, by speaking and discussion
Experience depends on judgment
In Poetics, Aristotle concerned himself with questions about emotions
o Said drama is about universal human action, and what can happen when well intentioned human actions miscarry
Noticed 2 important effects of tragic drama
o People are moved emotionally
o We can experience katharsis of our emotions
Mistranslated as purgation or purification as if one goes to theatre to rid oneself of toxic emotions
Nussbaum argues that Aristotle meant neither purgation nor purification meant clarification clearing away of obstacles to
understanding our emotions
Emotions are kinds of judgments
RENE DESCARTES The Philosophical Approach
Regarded as founder of modern philosophy and scientific view of brain
Focuses on emotions in The Passions of the Soul, book that many think of as basis for modern neurophysiology
New insights claimed that six fundamental emotions wonder, desire, joy, love, hatred, and sadness occur in thinking aspect
of ourselves that he called soul
o At same time they are closely connected to our bodies
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