Theories of Emotion(Evolutionary, Cannon-bard,James-lange and Schachter-Singer theory)

Theories of Emotion(Evolutionary, Cannon-bard,James-lange and Schachter-Singer theory)

Emotion is a complex, subjective experience accompanied by biological and behavioral changes. Emotion involves feeling, thinking, activation of the nervous system, physiological changes, and behavioral changes such as facial expressions. Different theories exist regarding how and why people experience emotion.

These include evolutionary theories, the James-Lange theory, the Cannon-Bard theory, Schacter and Singer’s two-factor theory, evolutionary theory , and cognitive appraisal theory.




Evolutionary Theories

More than a century ago, in the 1870s, Charles Darwin proposed that emotions evolved because they had adaptive value. For example, fear evolved because it helped people to act in ways that enhanced their chances of survival. Darwin believed that facial expressions of emotion are innate (hard-wired).
He pointed out that facial expressions allow people to quickly judge someone’s hostility or friendliness and to communicate intentions to others. It was naturalist Charles Darwin who proposed that emotions evolved because they were adaptive and allowed humans and animals to survive and reproduce. Feelings of love and affection lead people to seek mates and reproduce. Feelings of fear compel people to either fight or flee the source of danger.
  
According to the evolutionary theory of emotion, our emotions exist because they serve an adaptive role. Emotions motivate people to respond quickly to stimuli in the environment, which helps improve the chances of success and survival.

Understanding the emotions of other people and animals also plays a crucial role in safety and survival. If you encounter hissing, spitting, and clawing animal, chances are you will quickly realize that the animal is frightened or defensive and leave it alone. By being able to interpret correctly the emotional displays of other people and animals, you can respond correctly and avoid danger.

Recent evolutionary theories of emotion also consider emotions to be innate responses to stimuli. Evolutionary theorists tend to downplay the influence of thought and learning on emotion, although they acknowledge that both can have an effect. Evolutionary theorists believe that all human cultures share several primary emotions, including happiness, contempt, surprise, disgust, anger, fear, and sadness. They believe that all other emotions result from blends and different intensities of these primary emotions. For example, terror is a more intense form of the primary emotion of fear.



The James-Lange Theory of Emotion

…….. The theory that emotional feelings result when an individual becomes aware of a physiological response to an emotion-provoking stimulus. The James-Lange theory is one of the best-known examples of a physiological theory of emotion. Independently proposed by psychologist William James and physiologist Carl Lange, the James-Lange theory of emotion suggests that emotions occur as a result of physiological reactions to events.

This theory suggests that when you see an external stimulus that leads to a physiological reaction. Your emotional reaction is dependent upon how you interpret those physical reactions. For example, suppose you are walking in the woods and you see a grizzly bear. You begin to tremble, and your heart begins to race.

The James-Lange theory proposes that you will interpret your physical reactions and conclude that you are frightened ("I am trembling. Therefore I am afraid"). According to this theory of emotion, you are not trembling because you are frightened. Instead, you feel frightened because you are trembling.



The Cannon-Bard Theory of Emotion

………. The theory that an emotion-provoking stimulus is transmitted simultaneously to the cortex, providing the feeling of emotion, and to the sympathetic nervous system, causing the physiological arousal. Another well-known physiological theory is the Cannon-Bard theory of emotion. Walter Cannon disagreed with the James-Lange theory of emotion on several different grounds. First, he suggested, people can experience physiological reactions linked to emotions without actually feeling those emotions. For example, your heart might race because you have been exercising and not because you are afraid.

Cannon also suggested that emotional responses occur much too quickly for them to be simply products of physical states. When you encounter a danger in the environment, you will often feel afraid before you start to experience the physical symptoms associated with fear such as shaking hands, rapid breathing, and a racing heart.

Cannon first proposed his theory in the 1920s and his work was later expanded on by physiologist Philip Bard during the 1930s. According to the Cannon-Bard theory of emotion, we feel emotions and experience physiological reactions such as sweating, trembling, and muscle tension simultaneously.

Cannon first proposed his theory in the 1920s and his work was later expanded on by physiologist Philip Bard during the 1930s. According to the Cannon-Bard theory of emotion, we feel emotions and experience physiological reactions such as sweating, trembling, and muscle tension simultaneously.

More specifically, it is suggested that emotions result when the thalamus sends a message to the brain in response to a stimulus, resulting in a physiological reaction. At the same time, the brain also receives signals triggering the emotional experience. Cannon and Bard’s theory suggests that the physical and psychological experience of emotion happen at the same time and that one does not cause the other.

Comparison between James-Lange & Cannon-Bard Theory

According to the James-Lange theory, initially proposed by James and around the same time also by Lange, the stimulus leads to the arousal that leads to the emotion. The sound of a gun shot, for example, leads to the physiological responses like rapid heart rate and trembling that lead to the subjective experience of fear.

On the other hand, according to the Cannon-Bard theory, proposed first by Cannon and later extended by Bard, the stimulus leads to both the arousal and the emotion. The sound of a gun shot, for example, leads both to the physiological responses like rapid heart rate and trembling and to the subjective experience of fear.

More specifically, it is suggested that emotions result when the thalamus  sends a message to the brain in response to a stimulus, resulting in a physiological reaction.
At the same time, the brain also receives signals triggering the emotional experience. Cannon and Bard’s theory suggests that the physical and psychological experience of emotion happen at the same time, and that one does not cause the other.

The James-Lange and Cannon-Bard theories are fundamentally similar in that they both involve the same three components but different in how they handle the timing of when arousal and emotion occur. They differ from the two cognitive theories in that both of them do not explicitly acknowledge any role of cognition.



Schachter-Singer Theory(Two Factor Theory)

………A two-stage theory stating that for an emotion to occur, there must be (1) physiological arousal and (2) an explanation for the arousal Also known as the two-factor theory of emotion, the Schachter-Singer Theory is an example of a cognitive theory of emotion. This theory suggests that the physiological arousal occurs first, and then the individual must identify the reason for this arousal to experience and label it as an emotion. A stimulus leads to a physiological response that is then cognitively interpreted and labeled which results in an emotion.

Schachter and Singer’s theory draws on both the James-Lange theory and the Cannon-Bard theory of emotion. Like the James-Lange theory, the Schachter-Singer theory proposes that people do infer emotions based on physiological responses. The critical factor is the situation and the cognitive interpretation that people use to label that emotion.

Like the Cannon-Bard theory, the Schachter-Singer theory also suggests that similar physiological responses can produce varying emotions. For example, if you experience a racing heart and sweating palms during an important math exam, you will probably identify the emotion as anxiety. If you experience the same physical responses on a date with your significant other, you might interpret those responses as love, affection, or arousal.




Cognitive Appraisal Theory

According to appraisal theories of emotion, thinking must occur first before experiencing emotion. Richard Lazarus was a pioneer in this area of emotion, and this theory is often referred to as the Lazarus theory of emotion.

According to this theory, the sequence of events first involves a stimulus, followed by thought which then leads to the simultaneous experience of a physiological response and the emotion. For example, if you encounter a bear in the woods, you might immediately begin to think that you are in great danger. This then leads to the emotional experience of fear and the physical reactions associated with the fight-or-flight response.

The psychologist Richard Lazarus’s research has shown that people’s experience of emotion depends on the way they appraise or evaluate the events around them.
Comparison between Schachter-Singer & Lazarus theory
According to the two-factor theory, proposed by Schachter and Singer, the stimulus leads to the arousal that is labeled using the cognition that leads to the emotion. The sound of a gunshot, for example, leads to the physiological responses like rapid heart rate and trembling that are interpreted as fear and lead to the subjective experience of fear.

According to the cognitive-mediational theory, proposed by Lazarus, the stimulus leads to the personal meaning arrived at using cognition that leads to both the arousal and the emotion. The sound of a gunshot, for example, is interpreted as something potentially dangerous and leads to both the physiological responses like a rapid heart rate and trembling and the subjective experience of fear.

Regarding the similarities, the sequence of the three components in both the James-Lange and two-factor theories and in both the Cannon-Bard and cognitive-appraisal theories is the same. The fundamental difference between the two theories comprising each pair being the addition of a cognition component at some point in the sequence in the cognitive theories.

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