Chapter Eleven: Emotions

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Psychology & Brain Sciences
Course Code
Lori Astheimer Best

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Developmental Psychology Chapter Eleven: Emotions What are emotions? Emotions are a complex set of behaviors produced in response to some external or internal event, or elicitor, which serve to motivate and direct thoughts and actions. Emotions have certain components;  Physiological component, involving changes in autonomic nervous system activities such as respiration and heat rate.  Expressive component, usually a facial display that signals the emotion such as smiles, grimaces, cries and laughter.  Experiential component, the subjective feeling or cognitive judgment of having an emotion. The functions of emotions: Children who show an interest in certain objects or topics – a strong feeling of attraction or pleasure – pay more attention to those stimuli and remember them better in a subsequent memory test compared with objects that do not interest them.  Emotions serve to initiate, maintain, or terminate interactions with others.  “Moods” are more enduring emotional states that may help us understand the child’s personality attributes, such as the tendency to be shy, dependent, or aggressive. Measuring emotions:  Can record changes in physiological functions such as heart rate (acceleration or deceleration).  Heart rate variability (the individual’s basic heart rate pattern).  Electroencephalogram (EEG) patterns showing brain activity as affective stimuli are presented. A new technology is positron emission tomography (PET) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Another technique is to conduct fine-grained analyses of the child’s facial expressions or vocalizations. A child interprets his or her own emotions through self-report measures and tasks requiring children to label, match, or produce emotional expressions. Theoretical perspectives on emotional development: Biologically based explanations:  Paul Ekman concluded that there are universal facial expressions for certain basic emotions that are interpreted in similar ways across cultures.  Carroll Izard says that infants show a small set of discrete emotions (joy, anger, fear, sadness, interest and disgust). With development, these emotions becomes more interrelated and connected to cognition. These patterns of emotions eventually become organized as personality traits that vary per individual. A cognitive-socialization explanation According to Michael Lewis and Linda Michalson, environmental events do not directly produce an emotional expression. Instead, the child relies on cognitive processes to assess the event, how it compares with past events, and the social rules surrounding the event.  C0gnitive processes act as mediators or mental events that bridge the gap between environmental stimuli and the response the individual ultimately expresses. Socialization plays a
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