Lecture: Emotion
Reading Assignment 20: Emotion (pp. 344-354)
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Summary:
The twentieth reading assignment will discuss the scientific investigation of Affect. For seemingly no other reason than to confuse the public, psychologist refer to Emotions as Affect. If unknown to the reader, this peculiar distinction can lead to a great deal of confusion. The term Mood, on the other hand, is quite different from them both.
As with everything else in the world, some people are good at identifying Emotions while others are not. An individual that has a difficult time identifying the Emotion that they are experiencing might be suffering from Alexithymia. Other people, including myself, are extremely good at reflecting on their own Emotions and in detecting those experienced by others (i.e., Emotional Intelligence). Individuals that are able to read others and detect if something is bothering them are likely attending to Emotional Expressions. The most commonly known aspect of Emotional Expressions is body language, which allows many people can tell a lot about one’s Emotion or Mood.
People who are able to read and interpret other peoples’ Emotions are also better able to hide theirs from others; in other words, they are better at Emotion Regulation. Since they are very attentive to how others subtly communicate their feelings, they are better able to regulate them when and if they wish to hide their feelings. However, when it comes to Emotion Regulation there are two techniques widely used by individuals: Reframing and Suppression. They both can be equally devastating to healthy living; however, the latter can actually lead and contribute to health problems – such as high blood pressure.
It is often beneficial to remind people that there is no such thing as a good or a bad Emotion. Despite not having any moral value associated with displaying emotions, people are thought to be differentially motivated to either experience them or to avoid experiencing them. This observation has led to the categorizations of Positive Affect and Negative Affect. With the exception of Anger, it is typically easy to identify what emotions should be considered Positive Affect or Negative Affect. Anger is the exception because some people do enjoy being angry.
Theories of EmotionAccording to the Facial Expression Theory, the face plays a very special role with respect to Affect. Looking at the faces of strangers, people are able to distinguish the five Basic Emotions that are thought to be universal. Culture, however, does sometimes play an important role in what Emotional Expressions a person is willing to display. When amongst other boys, boys will pretend…to be men. In order to do this, they must adopt the Display Rules of what it means to be a “man” or at least the environmental representation of masculinity.

The next two theories, in addition to explaining Emotions, serve as a testament to the fact that Psychology is a science. Both of these theories bear the names of two theorists. The first set of two theorists never collaborated together on their research endeavors.


However, due to each of them being well read, they drew similar conclusions based on published research and proposed their theories independently and around the same time. The other theory is actually in response to the previously established theory and could not exist had it not been for the continued testing of the earlier established theory. Such examples of strategic advancements in knowledge could only occur as a result of adopting the scientific method.
The James-Lange Theory, as referenced before, bears the name of two researchers that never worked together or were even aware of each other’s studies. This theory holds that when an emotionally stimulating event occurs that it elicits (meaning it occurs automatically) an autonomic response (see Autonomic Nervous System) that is interpreted by the Brain. Only after the interpretation does the individual become aware that they are experiencing an emotion.
The Cannon-Bard Theory also bears the name of two researchers. Cannon, however, was a graduate student of Bard. This theory holds that when an emotionally stimulating event occurs, it simultaneously elicits the autonomic response and cognitive awareness of the emotion.


References:
Textbooks
A. Hock, R. R. (2002). Forty Studies that changed psychology: Explorations into the history of psychological research (4th Ed.). Pp. 164-171. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

B. Wood, S. E., & Wood, E. R. G. (2002). The World of Psychology. (4th Ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Co. [Chapter 11]

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