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Chapter 1

Psychology of Emotion - Chapter 1

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University of Toronto Scarborough
G Cupchik

Psychology of EmotionChapter 1Nineteenth Century Founders Charles Darwin y Charles Darwin the central figure in modern biology published the most important book on emotions yet writtenThe Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals y You might imagine that Darwin would have proposed that emotions had functions in our survival Indeed many psychologists and biologists assume that this is what he did say But he did not His argument was both closer to common sense and more subtle than anything that we might commonsensically believe y At that time the accepted theory was that God had given humans special facial muscles that allowed them to express uniquely human sentiments unknown to animals y A central tenet of Darwins theory however was that humans are descended from other species we are not only closer to animals than had been thought but we ourselves are animals y He developed new methods realizing the importance of crosscultural study He was one of the rst to use questionnaires y In his book on emotions Darwin asked two broad questions that guide emotion researchers today First how are emotions expressed in humans and other animals The second question Darwin addressed is where do our emotions come from y Darwin concluded that emotional expressions derive largely from habits that in our evolutionary or individual past had once been useful These are based on reexlike mechanisms Some actions occur in modern humans whether they are useful or not and are triggered involuntarily in circumstances analogous to those that had triggered the original habits y He thought emotional expressions were like vestigial parts of our bodies In our digestive system for instance is a small functionless organ the appendix Darwin proposed that this is evidence that we are descended from prehuman ancestors in whom this organ had a use y Emotional expressions showed the continuity of adult human behavioral mechanisms with those of lower animals and with those of infancy y In Darwins eyes then our emotions link us to our past both to the past of our species and to our own infancy William James y William James argued against the commonsense idea that when we feel an emotion it impels us to a certain kind of activitythat if we were to meet a bear in the woods we would feel frightened and run Instead James thought that when we perceive the object of fear a bear and the exciting fact 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 our posture frozen or our legs carrying us away as fast as possible y The core of an emotion James contended is the pattern of bodily responses y First James stressed that our experience of many emotions from fear to joy is the set of changes of the autonomic nervous system that part of the nervous system that supplies inner organs y Second James proposed that emotions give color and warmth to experience Without these effects of emotion he said everything would be pale
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