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Summary Of Emotional Theories

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James's Theory: This theory has it that your emotional responses are largely based on our physical actions. This does defy common sense, but James (and Carle Lange) postulated that emotion was merely experiencing the physiological responses. They felt that when you stripped away the physiological responses, emotion ceased to exist. Thus when you fear a bear, you feel fear because you experience the physical symptoms of fear. Thus, emotion is the psychological interpretation of physiological responses, which differ from emotion to emotion.

Now, in the english language there are 500+ words that describe emotion. Is it logical that each one of these words has a different process to it? No. Many of these words are synonyms, and thus mean roughly the same thing. This means that the number is reduced considerably. Fear and anger have different responses as do happiness and sadness.

Schacter's Modification of James's theory: Schachter believed that James was essentially right, but need a few details added and corrected. He believed that the labeling process depended on an attribution, the ability to find a cause for the responses. This theory hold that one will feel less aroused when the cause is attributed to a nonemotional event. He also holds that if emotions are artificially induced, by drugs for example, the emotion that results will be dependent on the environment. Schachter's research has not yet been replicated in a lab conditions and thus has little credit to it's name. One thing that stemmed from the research after this was Transfer of Excitement. This is when Excitement from one event carries over into another, influencing our actions.

Canon's Theory: Walter Canon believed the opposite of the above theories. He felt that emotion can result from brain activity alone. He argued that you felt emotion before you react upon the physical stimulus. Emotion is centered in the thalamus



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