CHAPTER 11 PREVIEW Emotions are psychological responses that involve an interplay among
(1) physiological arousal, (2) expressive behavior, and (3) conscious experience.
James and Lange argued that we feel emotion
after we notice our bodily responses; Cannon and Bard contended that we feel emotion when our body responds. Stanley Schachter's
two-factor theory states that to experience emotion we must be aroused and must cognitively label the emotion. Although some
psychologists agree that emotions arise from our interpretations and inferences, others maintain that some simple emotional
responses occur without any conscious processing.
Although the manifestations of physical arousal that occur with the
different emotions are for the most part indistinguishable, researchers have discovered subtle differences in brain circuits,
finger temperatures, and hormones. In using physiological indicators to detect lies, the polygraph does better than chance
but not nearly well enough to justify its widespread use.
We decipher people's emotions by "reading" their bodies, voices,
and faces. Although some gestures are culturally determined, facial expressions, such as those of happiness and fear, are
universal. Facial expressions not only communicate emotion but also amplify the felt emotion.
This chapter examines two
human emotions in detail: anger and happiness. Anger is most often aroused by frustrating or insulting acts that seem willful
and unjustified. Expressing anger may be temporarily calming, but in the long run it can actually arouse more anger. Happiness
boosts people's perceptions of the world and their willingness to help others. However, even significant good events seldom
increase happiness for long, a fact explained by the adaptation-level and relative deprivation principles.
viewed our response to stress as a "fight or flight" system. Hans Selye saw it as a three-stage, general adaptation syndrome.
Modern research assesses the health consequences of various life experiences. Events are particularly stressful when perceived
as both negative and uncontrollable. Coronary heart disease has been linked with the anger-prone Type A personality. Stress
also makes a person more vulnerable to infections and malignancy.
Stress management programs include training in aerobic
exercise, biofeedback, and relaxation. Although biofeedback can sometimes help people control tension headaches and high blood
pressure, simple relaxation exercises offer some of the same benefits. Social support also buffers the impact of stress. Researchers
seek to identify "intervening variables" that may link spirituality and health.
GENERAL INSTRUCTIONAL OBJECTIVES
Theories of Emotion
- To present the major theories of emotion.
- To describe the physiology of emotion, and to examine the
effectiveness of the polygraph.
- To present research on emotional expression.
- To discuss our experiences of fear and happiness.
- To discuss the nature of stress and explain its relationship
- To present effective stress management.
The Physiology of Emotion
- Identify the three components of emotion, and contrast
the James-Lange and Cannon-Bard theories of emotion.
Emotions are psychological responses that involve an interplay among
(1) physiological arousal, (2) expressive behavior, and (3) conscious experience.
The James-Lange theory states that our
experience of an emotion is a consequence of our physiological response to a stimulus; we are afraid because our heart pounds
(say, in response to an approaching stranger). The Cannon-Bard theory, on the other hand, proposes that the physiological
response and subjective experience of emotion occur simultaneously. Heart pounding and fear occur at the same time-one does
not cause the other.
- Describe Schachter's two-factor theory of emotion,
and discuss evidence suggesting that some emotional reactions involve no conscious thought.
Schachter's two-factor theory
states that to experience emotion one must (1) be physically aroused and (2) cognitively label the arousal. Robert Zajonc
believes that some simple emotional responses occur instantly before any cognitive processing occurs. In other words, we feel
some emotions before we think.
Research indicates that when people repeatedly view stimuli flashed too briefly for them
to perceive and recall, they nevertheless come to prefer these stimuli. Moreover, some neural pathways involved in emotion
bypass the cortical areas involved in thinking. One such pathway runs from the eye via the thalamus to one of the brain's
emotional control centers, the amygdala. This enables a quick, automatic response, which may then be modified after the cortex
has further interpreted a threat. While some emotional responses-especially simple likes, dislikes, and fears-involve no conscious
thinking, complex emotions-including moods such as depression-are greatly affected by our interpretations, memories, and expectations.
- Describe the physiological changes that occur during
emotional arousal, and discuss the relationship between arousal and performance.
In an emergency, the sympathetic nervous
system automatically mobilizes the body for fight or flight, directing the adrenal glands to release hormones that increase
heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar level. Other physical changes include tensed muscles, dry mouth, dilated pupils,
slowed digestion, and increased sweating. The parasympathetic nervous system calms the body.
In day-to-day life, our performance
on a task is usually best when arousal is moderate, though this varies with the difficulty of the task. With easy tasks, peak
performance comes with relatively high arousal, which enhances the dominant, usually correct response. With more difficult
tasks, the optimal arousal is somewhat less.
- (text and Thinking Critically) Describe the relationship
between physiological states and specific emotions, and discuss the effectiveness of the polygraph in detecting lies.
physical arousal that occurs with one emotion is, in most ways, indistinguishable from arousal that occurs with another. However,
scientists have discovered subtle differences in the brain circuits and hormones associated with different emotions. The right
hemisphere becomes more electrically active as people experience negative emotions, such as disgust. The left hemisphere activates
when processing positive emotions. Fear and rage are accompanied by differing finger temperatures and hormone secretions.
polygraph measures several physiological indicators of emotion-for example, changes in breathing, pulse rate, blood pressure,
and perspiration. Research suggests it errs about one-third of the time, too often to justify its widespread use in business
and government. It more often labels the innocent guilty than the guilty innocent. A more honest approach is the guilty knowledge
- Describe some nonverbal indicators of emotion,
and discuss the extent to which people from different cultures display and interpret facial expressions of emotion in a similar
manner. All of us communicate nonverbally as well as verbally. For example, if irritated, we may tense our bodies, press our
lips together, and turn away. With a gaze, an averted glance, or a stare we can communicate intimacy, submission, or dominance.
We read fear and anger mostly from the eyes, happiness from the mouth. Introverts are better emotion-detectors than extraverts,
although extraverts are easier to read. Also, women are better than men at reading emotions. Although some gestures
are culturally determined, facial expressions, such as those of happiness and fear, are common the world over. The physiological
symptoms of emotion also cross cultures. Cultures differ, however, in how, and how much, they express emotions. For example,
in communal cultures that value interdependence, intense displays of potentially disruptive emotions are infrequent.
- Describe the effects of facial expressions on emotional
Expressions not only communicate emotion, but they also amplify the felt emotion and signal the body to respond
accordingly. For example, students induced to make a frowning expression reported feeling a little angry. People instructed
to express other basic emotions react similarly. For example, just activating one of the smiling muscles by holding a pen
in the teeth is enough to make cartoons seem more amusing.
Stress and Health
- Discuss the catharsis hypothesis, and identify some
of the advantages and disadvantages of openly expressing anger.
The catharsis hypothesis maintains that "releasing" aggressive
energy through action or fantasy reduces anger. Although "blowing off steam" may temporarily calm an angry person, it may
also amplify underlying hostility, and it may provoke retaliation. Angry outbursts may be reinforcing and therefore habit
forming. In contrast, anger expressed as a nonaccusing statement of feeling can benefit relationships by leading to reconciliation
rather than retaliation.
- Identify some potential causes and consequences of
happiness, and describe how happiness is influenced by our own prior experiences and by others' attainments.
A good mood
boosts people's perceptions of the world and their willingness to help others (the feel-good, do-good phenomenon). The moods
triggered by good or bad events, however, seldom last more than that day. Even seemingly significant good events, such as
a substantial raise in income, seem not to increase happiness for long.
After decades of focusing on negative emotions
researchers are becoming increasingly interested in subjective well-being, assessed either as feelings of happiness or as
a sense of satisfaction with life.
The adaptation-level phenomenon describes our tendency to judge various stimuli relative
to what we have previously experienced. If our income or social prestige increases, we may feel initial pleasure. However,
we then adapt to this new level of achievement, come to see it as normal, and require something better to give us another
surge of happiness.
The adaptation-level phenomenon explains emotional ups and downs in the long run. According to the
opponent-process theory of emotion, our emotions also balance in the short run. That is, every emotion triggers an opposing
Relative deprivation is the perception that one is worse off relative to those with whom one compares oneself.
As people climb the ladder of success, they mostly compare themselves with those who are at or above their current level.
This explains why increases in income may do little to increase happiness.
High self-esteem, close friendships or a satisfying
marriage, and meaningful religious faith are among the predictors of happiness. Age, gender, educational level, and parenthood
are among the factors unrelated to happiness.
- Describe the "fight-or-flight" response to stress
and the physical characteristics and phases of the general adaptation syndrome.
Walter Cannon observed that, in response
to stress, the sympathetic nervous system activates the secretion of stress hormones, triggers increased heart rate and respiration,
diverts blood to skeletal muscles, and releases fat from the body's stores, all to prepare the body for either "fight or flight."
In Hans Selye's general adaptation syndrome (GAS), the body's adaptive response to stress is composed of three stages.
In Phase 1, we experience an alarm reaction due to the sudden activation of our sympathetic nervous system. Heart rate increases
and blood is diverted to the skeletal muscles. With our resources mobilized, we then fight the challenge during Phase 2, resistance.
Temperature, blood pressure, and respiration remain high and there is a sudden outpouring of stress hormones. If the stress
is persistent, it may eventually deplete our body's reserves during Phase 3, exhaustion. With exhaustion, we are more vulnerable
to illness or even, in extreme cases, collapse and death.
- Discuss the health consequences of catastrophes, significant
life changes, and daily hassles.
Catastrophic floods, hurricanes, and fires are followed by increased rates of psychological
disorders such as depression and anxiety. Those who experience significant life changes, such as the death of a spouse, divorce,
or loss of a job, are vulnerable to disease. Experiencing a cluster of such crises puts one even more at risk. Daily hassles,
such as rush-hour traffic, long lines at the bank or store, and aggravating housemates, may be the most significant source
- Describe the effects of a perceived lack of control
and a pessimistic outlook on health.
Catastrophes, important life changes, and daily hassles are especially stressful when
we appraise them as negative and uncontrollable. Rats that experience uncontrollable shock are more susceptible to ulcers
and experience a lowered immunity to disease. Both animal and human studies show that loss of control provokes an outpouring
of stress hormones that can contribute to health problems. Pessimism also influences stress vulnerability. Optimists report
less fatigue, have fewer aches and pains, and respond to stress with smaller increases in blood pressure.
- Discuss the role of stress in causing coronary heart disease,
and contrast Type A and Type B personalities.
Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death. It has been linked
with the competitive, hard-driving, and impatient Type A personality, especially those who are easily roused to anger. Under
stress, the body of the Type A person secretes more of the hormones that accelerate the buildup of placques on the heart's
artery walls. The noncompetitive, relaxed, easy-going Type B personality is less physiologically reactive when harassed or
given a difficult challenge and less susceptible to coronary heart disease.
- Describe how stress increases the risk of disease by inhibiting
the activities of the body's immune system.
Psychophysiological illnesses are caused by stress. The secretion of stress
hormones suppresses the immune system's lymphocytes, white blood cells that are important in fighting bacterial infections
(B lymphocytes) and cancer cells, viruses, and foreign substances (T lymphocytes). Thus, when animals are physically restrained,
given unavoidable electric shocks, or subjected to noise or crowding, they become more susceptible to disease. Studies suggest
that stress similarly depresses the human immune system, making us more vulnerable to illness. Although some researchers report
no link between stress and cancer, others have shown that people are at risk for cancer a year or so after experiencing depression,
helplessness, or bereavement. Furthermore, cancer patients who bottle up their negative emotions may have less chance of survival
than those who express them.
- Describe the impact of learning on immune system functioning.
show that conditioning can influence the immune system's responses. For example, after researchers associated sweetened water
with a drug that causes immune suppression, the inert substance alone triggered the immune response. Such conditioned immune
suppression can triple an animal's likelihood of growing a tumor when fed a carcinogen. Current research seeks to determine
whether it is also possible to condition the immune system's enhancement.
- Identify and discuss different strategies for coping with
stress, and explain why people should be skeptical about the value of alternative medicine.
Studies suggest that aerobic
exercise can reduce stress, depression, and anxiety. Although the degree of mind control over the body that can be gained
through biofeedback has fallen short of early expectations, it sometimes helps people control tension headaches and high blood
pressure. Simple relaxation exercises offer some of the same benefits. Counseling Type A heart attack victims to slow down
and relax has helped them lower their rate of recurring attacks. Social support also helps people cope, partly by buffering
the impact of stress. Researchers are now trying to understand the active components of the religion-health connection.
and alternative medicine practices are bound to seem effective, whether or not they are. People are likely to employ them
when they are ill and, although they may seem to produce improvement, the return to health may merely reflect the body's natural
regression to normal. Alternative medicine may seem especially effective with cyclical diseases as people seek therapy during
the ensuing upturn. The placebo effect as well as the spontaneous remission of many diseases may also contribute to a treatment's
perceived effectiveness. The actual effectiveness of alternative medicine needs to be established.