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Reviews of Theories

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Reviews of Theories of Emotion Causation
Jennifer Tang Yii Ting
Department of Psychology
PSY 111
Mr. Alex Lui
Tutorial 8
Ms. Karuna Sarah

The factor of differentiation, intensity, or elicitation are argued frequently should be listed down using the theories of emotion. There are spontaneous bodily responses, which is actuating by noncognitive yet witting perceptual states caused emotion, corresponding by Williams James. James (1890, vol. 2, p.449) reported, “emotions are perceptions of bodily responses: An emotion is our “feeling” of the “bodily changes” following upon the perception of an “exciting fact”.” Descartes and James’s theories often grouped together as both of them indicated that the go through of emotions and passions are caused by the sensory stimulation precede. Furthermore, James and Carl Georg Lange theories about emotion joint together and formed the “James-Lange theory” of emotion. The James-Lange theory gives a clear idea on the nature of emotions starting on comparing the changes in physiological within the body and emotions. However, Lange’s suggest mechanism that touch on emotion would be less accurate and it was connected with James’s theory while it makes Lange’s work become less famous. While defining for emotions, several types of components are dropped down since it is contemplate as a prototypical emotional episode. Here comes the component: cognitive component, feeling component, motivational component, somatic component, and motor component. The description of cognition in the list of components is not informative. It should be noted that differentiation between somatic and motor responses demonstrates for the term of cognition in the broad sense of the mental. In this end, cognition can categorize under non-dynamic representations when comparing to motivation and cognitive component considered rule-based, propositional, intentional, or non-automatic. Research (e.g. Prinz, 2004) shows that, the components, which are included by the emotion theorists in the emotional episode and the one, which included or the emotion identified by them, are disagreed. Considering most of the components about the episodes of emotional are included by some of the theorists (Clore & Centerbar, 2004; Scherer, 2005).
According to Frijda and Parrott (2007), no component is incomparable, while some of the components might be necessary for emotion. To make the stands clear, taking a piece of soap as experiment, which move through one’s hand when shower and has shown the action of tendency, combining the feelings of manifested and responses of somatic, reminding to have an action on catching the soap. Ortony and Turner (1990) and many other theorists have argued that there must have a positive or negative site in the experience of an emotion, excluding the neutral states for example interest and surprise. Explanation of an emotion causation question would be about the things happened within the stimulus (input) and the emotion (output). An ideal emotion theory related with concerned about emotion causation should explain that not all stimuli elicit an emotion but only a few of them in environment. There are different definitions of emotions held by emotion theorists and they admitted an emotion has quantity together with quality. Both James and Descartes’s works categorized under different sections: according to some historians of psychology (Danziger, 1997, p.15; Smith,2005), in 17th and 19th century they are pretty sure that there is no helpful continuity: the modern discipline in psychology is more covered under James’ works meanwhile the foreign cultural and intellectual climate considered as Descartes works. The three concepts with Descartes’, “passions, “emotion” or motivation” are departed by “vast conceptual gulf”, which is found by Danziger (1997, p. 37). It is true that there is a danger of retrospective distortion, however the past theories in historical context are useful in avoiding by reading them. James theory is known as a feeling theory since he always equated emotion with emotional experience. With this, James insists the feelings of bodily events like trembling, decelerated heat rate, and brow-furrowing explained the term of “emotion”, yet it is the main point for his theory of emotion. There is a specific response signature for each and every emotion but James has no demonstrates the producing of bodily responses in his first argument. This shortcoming proves that he does not mention the elicitation problem. Back to the work of Lange, it is under the category of monograph, representing the new ideas generates from physiological method and it is a combination with clinical observation in psychiatric patients. Emotions are caused by physiological cause, assuming by Lange. As Lange (1887, pp. 50-51) said: “ It is commonly held that the immediate effect of an occurrence upon which follows an emotion is of purely spiritual nature; …whereas the bodily occurrences are secondary phenomena only, which are never absent but which are in principle utterly irrelevant.” There are two factors in emotion and they are emotion eliciting cause and also the effect. Lange raised a question relating these two factors: What lies to them? or does anything lie between them? The content of debate found in article “Feeling and thinking: Preferences need no inferences” by R. B. Zajonc (1980) is likely to have a pre-solution here as Lange argues against the Spiritualists with three processes. First, observing the physiological changes that happens in patients with different emotions and vascular changes, he recorded. Next Lange goes through the experiment, through the administration of alcohol, which generates the emotions of a person. This proves a purely physiological change of the vascular system. Lastly, he demonstrated that emotions of fear could be made when there is lacking in spiritual or ideational component. As the previous point, from the clinical side, Lange exploring the factor of emotion and this makes him different with James, which is a good one. His researches become an essential part in a sense of biological psychiatry because he tried to judge physical causes with the symptoms they had and the clear observation about the illness of mental within a patient gives a lot of information. A person would have many emotions due to their mediated being distracted by “vasomotor centre”, according to Lange. To summarize all, in 19th century Lange slightly began his debate related with nature of emotion. The James-Lange theory generated in 1890s and mainly research on the changes of vascular and how it affects the emotion. Overall, theories that touched on causation of emotion can be collected from psychological or even philosophical literature. Lastly, it is an ideal way using the terminology of psychological to differentiate and also found out the similarities of the theories.

Claudia Wassmann. September 2010. Reflections on the “body loop”: Carl Georg Lange’s theory of emotion. Retrieved from
Gary Hatfield. August 2007. Did Descartes Have a Jamesian Theory of the Emotions? Retrieved from
Agnes Moors. June 2009. Theories of emotion caustion: A review. Retrieved from

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