Chapter 8 Emotion and Cognition
Early psychology was built on the principles of philosophy where emotion and cognition
were viewed as two distinct concepts. Plato believed that human beings have three souls
i.e. the intellect, the will and the emotions
Todays concept of cognitive revolution that builds on the technological advances e.g.
computer fails to grasp the concept of emotion
An issue is whether or not emotion can be experienced without cognitive appraisal i.e.
the interpretation of the reason for feeling
Two schools of thoughts exist:
i. Zajonc argues that affective judgements (emotional judgements) occur before
and independently of cognition
ii. Lazarus argues that emotion cannot be experienced without cognitive appraisal
e.g. physiological arousal occurs when you are happy/scared but cognitive
interpretation is required to perceive the true emotion behind the arousal
Amygdala is a small structure in the medial temporal lobe anterior to hippocampus that
is responsible for emotion. This structure influences and gets influenced by cognition.
Therefore, emotion and cognition are interdependent
Emotion refers to the mental and physical processes that include aspects of subjective
experience, evaluation and appraisal (judgement), motivation and other bodily processes e.g.
Emotion in terms of cognitive psychology is defined a brief episode of synchronized
responses (including bodily responses, facial expressions and subjective evaluation) that
indicate the evaluation of internal or external events as significant. Emotions are the range of
reactions to events that are limited in time
Mood refers to a diffuse affective state that is most pronounced as a change in subjective
feeling. Moods are generally low intensity affective states, have a relatively long duration
and could exist without any cause.
Attitudes are persistent, affective beliefs, preferences or predisposition towards persons or
Motivation refers to the tendency to act according to some affective response.
A primary function of emotion is to motivate action
Ekman suggested 6 basic expression of emotions i.e. anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness
1 Each expression is characterized by a unique subset of facial muscle movements, and the
ability to convey emotions appears to be innate since not only infant but blind people are able
to express the emotions in a similar way.
Some neural systems specialize for the perception of specific emotional expressions e.g.
bilateral damage to amygdale produces a deficit in the perception of expressions of fear,
insula and basal ganglia help perceive the expressions of disgust, neurotransmitter system
activated by dopamine is involved in the perception of expressions of anger
Although the 6 emotions defined by Ekman do not capture all human experiences but they
are the basic emotions i.e. emotional reactions that are universal across cultures
Human emotions do not exist as distinct categories but rather lie on a continuum.
The Circumplex model
Arousal refers to the bodily changes that occur in emotion e.g. heart rate, sweating etc. The
intensity of emotional reactions can be assessed by the strength of these responses.
Valence is the subjective quality (positive or negative) of the emotional response to a
specific object or event.
Circumplex model puts arousal on one axis and valence of the other axis. In this model,
arousal refers to the strength of stimulus and activation of resources whereas valence refers to
the degree to which we perceive the emotion as positive or negative. Emotions are then
plotted on the axis where the data falls in a circular pattern.
In a study, it was found that amygdala responded to the intensity of smell and orbitofrontal
cortex helped differentiate between positive or negative smell
Amygdala codes several different aspects of emotional experience
The Approach-Withdrawal Distinction
Emotions can be plotted along the dimension of motivation which tells us the tendency to
act/respond gets influenced by emotion
Different emotions lead to different actions.
Approach emotions refer to happiness, surprise and anger because they evoke the desire to
approach the stimulus object or situation
Withdrawal emotions refer to sad, disgust and fear because they evoke the desire to
withdraw from an object or situation
Approach-withdrawal model characterizes the acting tendency of emotion i.e. it takes
motivation into account as a tendency to approach or withdraw from an object based on
Cerebral asymmetry shows approach and withdrawal tendencies.
2i. People with positive affective traits show high EEG activity in the left anterior frontal
region. Infants with dominant left hemisphere are less likely to cry
ii. People with negative affective traits show high EEG activity in the right anterior
frontal region. Dominant right hemisphere infants are more likely to cry.
Manipulating and Measuring Emotion
Manipulation by Mood Induction
Mood is a stable and diffuse affective state of emotion, longer lasting and does not have
to be linked to an event.
Mood induction is a technique that focuses on changing the baseline state of mood
reported by the participants. This may involve showing movies, playing music etc. It is
considered successful if the participant reports a shift of mood in the predicted direction
Manipulation by Evocative Stimuli
We can manipulate emotions by presenting emotionally evocative stimuli. Typical
stimuli include faces with different emotions, words varying in arousal or valence etc
Measuring Emotion directly
Direct assessment refers to the assessment of affective states or responses by asking the
participant to explicitly report their emotional reaction, mood or attitude. This procedure
relies on self-report and introspection.