Theory of Knowledge EMOTION. 1. What is Emotion?
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Theory of KnowledgeEMOTION
1. What is Emotion?
Turn to your partner, and answer the following questions together:
How are emotions triggered? How long do emotions last?What determines the strength or weakness of an emotion? Is it possible to exert control over emotions? If so, how? Do you make emotions happen, or do they happen to you?How do emotions make you think differently?Share your ideas with the class.
2. Theories of Emotion
The James-Lange TheoryPerception of emotion-arousing stimulusSpecific physiological changesInterpretation of specific physiological changes as the emotionThe James-Lange theory of emotion states that different emotion-arousing external stimuli will produce specific physiological changes that in turn directly cause specific emotional feelings.
Thus, the external stimuli of a dangerous object will cause the physiological response of adrenaline release / increased heart rate, which in turn is felt as the emotion of fear. According to this theory, you are afraid because you run.
The Schachter-Singer TheoryPerception of emotion-arousing stimulusPhysiological responsesCognitive identification of feedback from physiological responses as a particular emotionPhysiological responses can be interpreted in different ways different people may label the same response as a different emotion.According to this theory, I feel my heart beating fast because Im afraid. He feels his heart beating fast because hes excited
The Cannon-Bard TheoryPerception of emotion-arousing stimulusConscious experience of emotionGeneral physiological changesThe Cannon-Bard theory of emotion states that conscious feelings of emotion and physiological changes occur as separate but simultaneous reactions to external emotion-arousing stimuli.According to this theory, you feel fear at the sight of a bear even before you run away from it.
In review Theories of Emotion
TheorySource of EmotionsEvidence for TheoryJames-LangeThe Central Nervous System generates specific physical responses; observation of the physical responses constitutes emotion.Different emotions are associated with different physical responses.Schachter-SingerThe CNS generates non-specific physical responses; interpretation of the physical responses in light of the situation constitutes emotion.Excitation generated by physical activity can transfer to increase emotional intensity.Cannon-BardParts of the CNS directly generate emotions; experiencing physiological responses is not necessary. Direct brain stimulation can produce feelings of pleasure or discomfort associated with emotion.
Emotion is usually temporary. Moods, by contrast, tend to last longer. Emotional experience is either positive or negative, pleasant or unpleasant. Emotion is triggered partly by a mental assessment of how a situation relates to your goals. Emotional experience alters thought processes, often by directing attention toward some things and away from others. Emotional experience elicits an action tendency, a motivation to behave in certain ways. Emotional experiences are passions that happen to you, usually without willful intent. You can exert some control over emotions, since they depend partly on how you interpret situations.
(Bernstein, p. 310)According to most psychologists in Western cultures
3. Emotion & Reason-Emotional Hijacking
How many times in your life have you done something that was triggered by an emotion, but without thinking?
Note some thoughts in your TOK notebook, then share them with a partner.
A friend tells of having been on vacation in England, and eating brunch at a canalside caf. Taking a stroll afterward along the stone steps down to the canal, he suddenly saw a girl gazing at the water, her face frozen in fear. Before he knew quite why, he had jumped in the water in his coat and tie. Only once he was in the water did he realize that the girl was staring in shock at a toddler who had fallen in whom he was able to rescue.
What made him jump in the water before he knew why? The answer, very probably, was his amygdala (Goleman p. 17).Can Emotion bypass the reasoning brain?
1. The person perceives the stimulus (snake).2. Information about the snake is processed in the visual cortex (in the neo-cortex, the reasoning part of the brain).3. An emotional response occurs in the amygdala.4. The emotional response triggers a physical reaction, such as fighting or running away.The James-Lange Theory
Le Douxs work revealed how the architecture of the brain gives the amygdala a privileged position as an emotional sentinel, able to hijack the brain. His research has shown that sensory signals from eye or ear travel first in the brain to the thalamus, and then to the amygdala; a second signal from the thalamus is routed to the neocortex the thinking brain. This branching allows the amygdala to begin to respond before the neocortex, which mulls information through several levels of brain circuits before it fully perceives and finally initiates a more finely tailored response (Goleman, p. 17).Therefore, impulsive feeling does sometimes override the rational part of the brain.thalamusamygdalavisual cortexCounterclaim: Le Douxs Theory
When else might this happen? when we speak without thinking when we react on impulse (positive: to save someones life; negative: to hit someone) when we act on a hunch (and turn out to be rightor very wrong) when we have irrational fears (phobias), such as a fear of that spider, even though its tiny! when we are filled with jealousy because our girlfriend / boyfriend is talking very sweetly (or so it seems) to someone else.
4. Emotion & Values
Elliots TumourElliots tumour was the size of an orange. It was removed successfully, but after the operation Elliot was a changed man. Although he was as bright as ever, he used his time terribly, getting lost in minor details and losing all sense of priority. He was fired from a succession of legal jobs, his wife left him, and he was reduced to living in a spare room at his brothers home.
Elliots neurologist, Antonio Damasio, found that although nothing was wrong with his logic, memory, attention or any other cognitive ability, Elliot was virtually oblivious to his feelings about what had happened to him. Most strikingly, he could relate the tragic events of his life with complete dispassion, as though he were an onlooker to the losses and failures of his past. His own tragedy brought him no pain.
Damasio concluded that Elliots surgery, while successfully removing the tumour, had also severed ties between the lower centres of the emotional brain, especially the amygdala and related circuits, and the thinking abilities of the neocortex. As a result, Elliot was unable to assign values to differing possibilities (Goleman, p. 53).
thalamusamygdalavisual cortexConclusion: Too little awareness of his own feelings about things made Elliots reasoning faulty.
5. Are Emotions learned or are they innate?
Are these expressions the same in every culture?
Activity: look at the facial expressions, A to K, on the right. Write down a word or short phrase describing the emotion that is being expressed. This is a secret activity -do not let anyone see what you are writing!Now share your words with your group. Did you all see the same emotions, or were there some differences? What conclusions can you draw from this?
When I first became interested in studying body motion I was confident that it would be possible to isolate a series of expressions, postures and movements that were very denotative of primary emotional states... As research proceeded it became clear that this search for universals was culture-bound... There are probably no universal symbols of emotional state... We can expect them [emotional expressions] to be learned and patterned according to the particular structures of particular societies.
Birdwhistell, R. (1970). Kinesics and Context. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Claim: Ray Birdwhistell, anthropologist / linguist
Counterclaim: Paul Ekman, psychologist humans have 42 facial muscles using these, they are capable of pulling about 10,000 expressions about 3,000 of these are relevant to emotion most people around the world use similar expressions for similar emotions this suggests that expressions of emotions are innate, and not learned but this does not mean that people in different cultures have the same emotions for the same reasons
basic emotions are goal-related these goals are linked to our evolution as a species and the behaviour of our ancestorsExample: I am happy that my girlfriend messaged me because it confirms that she loves me and my goal is to marry her and have children. Or: I am angry that my girlfriend didnt message me, because it goes against this goal.Ekman, P. (1973). Cross-cultural studies of facial expression. In P.Ekman (ed.), Darwin and Facial Expression: A Century of Research in Review.New York: Academic Press, pp. 169- 222.Paul Ekman: Basic Emotions= emotions associated with fundamental life tasks, e.g. fear, anger, disgust, sadness, joy, excitement, love
Each emotion thus prompts us in a direction which, in the course of evolution, has done better than other solutions in recurring circumstances that are relevant to goals. Stein & Trabasso (1992) say that in happiness a goal is attained or maintained, in sadness there is a failure to attain or maintain a goal, in anger an agent causes a loss of a goal, and in fear there is an expectation of failure to achieve a goal. Tooby & Cosmide