Lecture 4, April 8

Defining emotion:

Evaluative response (positive or negative feeling state) that typically includes subjective experience, physiological arousal, and behavioral expression

Distinguished from MOOD (421):

Relatively extended emotional states that, unlike emotions, typically do not shift attention or disrupt ongoing activities.

Classifying Emotions:

Hierarchy (Fig 11.7)

Time connection (p. 421)

Present: Joy, distress
Future: Hope, fear
Past: Guilt, grief

Applying the ABC trilogy to sort out emotion theories: Affect/Behavior&Body/Cognition


Jump, Leap ... become joyous

"Smile --> be happy; Run--> be scared" theory

Peripheral nervous system (see pp. 86-89; Fig. 3.6) responds to stimulus in environment; emotion is the subjective experience of physiological state & action (body/behavior)

Stimulus --> B response --> A experience


Coincident Behavior & experience

Dual response theory: Stimulus elicits body/ behavior reaction & emotional reaction

Stimulus --> B response [slower]
Stimulus --> A response [faster]


Stimulation-->Subjective interpretation


Based on presumption that physiological state of arousal is "generic," & can be associated with many different emotions. Thus person must interpret their own arousal, and find a meaning that corresponds to a particular emotion.


Stimulus-->B response-->C interpretation--> A

Experiments evoked arousal and then demonstrated that subjects interpreted that arousal as different emotions based on behavior of a confederate (p. 420-421)


Hemispheric association with negative & positive affect & left dominance for emotional processing (Fig. 11.9):

Right brain (NOTE: corresponds to Left side of body)-->dominant in processing emotional cues and producing facial expressions

Left (right hand) -> "approach" emotions: pleasant, positive
Right (left hand) -> "avoid" emotions: negative

Dual neural pathways for processing emotion Fig 11.8):

Thalamus--> Amygdala (FAST)--> A & B response
Thalamus--> Cortex (SLOW) --> C interpretation

Thalamus: Relay station for information from the sensory systems. Information goes from thalamus to the cortex for processing.

Amygdala: specializes in emotional memory--the emotional qualities associated with a particular memory. Located in subcortical areas inside the temporal lobes.

Hippocampus: narrative memory and context.

Frontal (prefrontal is just another word for frontal) lobes: planning & organizing actions and responses, including emotional responses.

Double pathways from thalamus to frontal cortex and direct to amygdala mean that you can have an emotional response (mediated by the amygdala) BEFORE the thinking cortex has a chance to process the information.

Note: This supports the Cannon-Bard intuition about dual pathways. How does it connect to Schachter-Singer and James-Lange theories?


What can you do to handle stress in your life?

1. Acknowledge & examine your feelings. Write about stressful events and feelings. Talk about them with a friend or counselor.
(P. 409, Pennebaker 1992 study)

2. Exercise helps relieve stress (p. 435) Why? [consider the flight-fight reaction and its role in stress]

3. Longer term strategy for coping (p. 437)

Change situation
Change thoughts
Change emotions