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Emotions Paper

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Emotions Paper

The presence of emotion on human lives is a combination of many events, from our natural biological constructs, to our environment and how that aided our development. Emotions play a pivotal role as to how we act towards motivation. Two intrinsically different historical theories arise which illustrate polar views on the source of human emotion. One being James-Lange’s theory where physiological symptoms trigger emotional response, and the second being Cannon’s theory where both physiological and emotional response occur at the same time. Two research methods include word association, how language can label human emotions, and evolutionary theory that is based on the idea that emotions aided early human survival. Finally Darwin had a structural facial component known as facial feedback hypothesis, wherein an event-appraisal-emotional sequence was formulated. All these theories play a major role in human emotion being the driving force behind motivation.

Emotion is an important aspect of motivation because it is the source of action when the environment acts as an incentive (Davidson, Jackson, & Kalin, 2000). The historic background of arousal and motivation includes the James-Lange theory of emotion and the Cannon theory. James proposed that physiological symptoms occur directly before a stimulating event or emotional experience (Davidson, Jackson, & Kalin, 2000). Specifically, the physiologic response is the reason for the emotional event (Davidson, Jackson, & Kalin, 2000). He believed that emotion does not exist without the physiologic response (Davidson, Jackson, & Kalin, 2000). James also believed that there are no areas in the brain that relate to emotional feelings (Davidson, Jackson, & Kalin, 2000).

Cannon believed that there are circuits involved with feelings within the brain, and specific structures involved with emotion (Davidson, Jackson, & Kalin, 2000). Cannon believed that the body’s response to a stimulating event (sweaty palms, hypertension, and increased heart rate) and the emotional state occur at the same time. The structures of the brain pertaining to the emotional response are the thalamus and cerebral cortex. The thalamus senses changes in the environment and at the same time sends messages to the automatic nervous system (for physiologic responses) and then to the cerebral cortex that in turn demonstrates an emotional response (Emotion-AP Psychology Community, n.d.).

Emotion and arousal are two wonderments of the human condition that is still being studied today. Psychologists who were determined to analyze emotions by studying the meaning of emotion words as developed by Johnson-Laird and Oatley. These two psychologists lead an in-depth analysis on 590 word of the English language to study their various meanings and relations to emotion that was later called category analysis (Oatley & Johnson-Laird, 1990; Deckers, 2010). However a discrepancy arose whether a word described a subjective feeling or not. This lead to the words put into emotion categories meaning, so the words were grouped because of similar meaning which resulted in five emotional categories: Happiness, sadness, anger, fear, and disgust. Another emotion theory is the evolutionary theory that is based on the idea that emotions aided early human survival. "A crucial event evokes a subjective emotional experience, which in turn increases the likelihood of a class of behaviors that promotes survival" (Deckers, 2010). The presence of a predator provokes fear and then invokes running away to survive. Crying from an infant or others brings aid and comfort from other individuals. It is also stated that the five emotions from category analysis correspond with the eight necessary functions for survival, which are: reproduction, exploration, reintegration, orientation, fear, destruction and rejection. These two theories complement each other.

In studies conducted by Darwin (1872) and James (1884) over a hundred years ago, the facial feedback hypothesis was established using their ideas related to the two-way relationship between face and emotion. The facial feedback hypothesis (FFH) theorizes that the facial muscles have the ability to express emotion, control subjective experiences, and initiate emotions. Tomkins (1962) proposed that “different subcortical affect programs reacted to stimuli and thereby controlled a fast and automatic activation of relevant muscles and organs” (Dimberg, & Söderkvist, 2011, pg. 18). Feedback from physical responses to the brain prompted different emotions, including the feedback from the facial muscles. Using the fMRI, scientists established that facial feedback modifies neural activity in the amygdala region. Interestingly, they found that patients who have received Botox treatment, therefore having reducing their facial muscle activity, showed a decrease in the activation of the amygdala and central circuitries of emotion (Dimberg, & Söderkvist, 2011).

In the event-appraisal-emotion sequence, there are some four common assumptions. First, different appraisals of identical events have the ability to induce different emotions. Second, different events can induce the same emotion. Third, the involuntary unfolding of emotion is provoked by the outcome of the appraisal process. Lastly, appraisal can occur both above and below the individual’s level of awareness. From these assumptions, it was hypothesized that the emotion unfolds in the form of affect, physiological responses, facial expressions, and behavior. The event-appraisal-emotion sequence, seeks to further explain the FFH by suggesting that facial feedback is the behavioral response to the appraisal process (Deckers, 2010).
Many theories centered around the influence of emotion on motivation have come up over the years, and each theory seems to cover a different aspect of the emotional spectrum. James-Lange theorized that emotion is triggered by physiological sources, whereas Cannon thought that both physiological and emotional responses are initiated at the same time. Two research methods include word association, how language can label human emotions, and evolutionary theory that is based on the idea that emotions aided early human survival. Finally Darwin had a structural facial component known as facial feedback hypothesis, wherein an event-appraisal-emotional sequence was formulated. All these theories aid in painting the picture of understanding how emotions push a person to be motivated towards an action.

Davidson, R. J., Jackson, D. C., & Kalin, N. H. (2000, November). Emotion, plasticity, context, and regulation: Perspectives from affective neuroscience. Psychological Bulletin, 126(6), 890-909. doi:
Deckers, L. (2010). Motivation: biological, psychological, and environmental (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Dimberg, U., & Söderkvist, S. (2011). The Voluntary Facial Action Technique: A Method to Test the Facial Feedback Hypothesis. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 35(1), 17-33. doi:10.1007/s10919-010-0098-6
Emotion-AP Psychology Community. (n.d.). Emotion. Retrieved from

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