Notebook, 1993-

Return to - Notes for a Perspective on Art Education -- NOTES on Child Development

Notes from: Coon, Dennis. Introduction to Psychology, Exploration and Application. St. Paul: West Publishing Company, 1989.

The Brain, Biology, and Behavior - Sensation & reality - Perceiving the World - States of Consciousness

Conditioning & Learning - Cognition & Creativity - Artificial Intelligence - Enhancing Creativity

Emotion - Health, Stress & Coping - ANS Effects

Theories of Personality - Dimensions of Personality - From Birth to Death - Child Development


1. EMOTION means movement ["to move"]. Something moves us:
First, the body is physically aroused during emotion. Pounding heart, sweating palms, and "butterflies" in the stomach are closely identified with emotion. Second, we are often motivated, or moved to take action, by emotions such as fear, anger, or joy.

Underlying all this, perhaps, is the fact that emotions are linked to such basic adaptive behaviors as attacking, retreating, seeking comfort, helping others, reproducing, and the like. Human emotions can be disruptive (stage fright, choking up in an athletic contest). More often, emotions aid survival.

Emotion may blossom, change course, or diminish as it proceeds. Original emotional stimulus may be external (dog) or internal (memory of being chased by dog, rejected by a lover, or praised by a friend). And, mere thoughts or memories can make us fearful, sad, or happy.

And, relationships are one of the most potent sources of human emotional response.

2. ANS - Physiology and Emotion - Arousal, Sudden Death, and Lying.
Physical aspects of emotions are innate, or built into the body - not normally under voluntary control. Reactions to unpleasant emotions are especially consistent: muscle tension, a pounding heart, irritability, dryness of the throat and mouth, sweating, butterflies in the stomach, frequent urination, trembling, restlessness, sensitivity to loud noises, and a large number of internal reactions --all these reactions are caused by the ANS (autonomic nervous system) --not normally under voluntary control.

Sympathetic branch prepares the body for emergency --arouses a number of bodily systems and inhibiting others --to increase the chances that a person or an animal will survive an emergency.

Parasympathetic branch generally reverses emotional arousal and calms and relaxes the body. It restores balance, and it helps build up and conserve bodily energy.

And, the Parasympathetic responds much more slowly than Sympathetic branch. Thus- - increased heart rate, muscle tension and other signs of arousal do not fade for 20-30 minutes after an intense emotional experience such as fear. And, the Parasympathetic may overreact after a strong emotional shock --lower blood pressure too much, or one may become dizzy or faint from shock.

Parasympathetic rebound - parasympathetic branch overreacts during intense fear. It can cause death. Some soldiers literally die of fear in combat. Older persons or those with heart problems may have a heart attack or collapse due to sympathetic activation.

Polygraph [means "many writings"] The lie detector - Measures bodily changes caused by the ANS. Accuracy is doubtful. Often a serious invasion of privacy. All it really does is record general emotional arousal. It can't tell the difference between lying and fear, anxiety, or excitement. It draws a record of changes in Heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, and the galvanic skin response (GSR) (Recorded from the surface of the hand by electrodes that measure skin conductance or, more simply, sweating)

James-Lange Theory (1884-1885). Argued that emotional feelings follow bodily arousal. We see a bear, run, are aroused, and then feel fear as we become aware of our bodily reactions.

Cannon-Bard Theory (1927). Proposed that emotional feelings and bodily arousal are both organized by the brain. If the bear is seen as dangerous, then bodily arousal, running, and feelings of fear will all be generated at the same time. [Seeing the bear activates the thalamus, which in tern alerts both the cortex and the hypothalmus for action. The cortex is responsible for emotional feelings and emotional behavior. The hypothalmus is responsible for arousing the body.]

Schachter's Cognitive Theory of Emotion (1971). Stanley Schachter. Realized that cognitive (mental) factors also enter into emotion. Assumes that when we are aroused, we have a need to interpret our feelings. Emotion occurs when a particular label is applied --the label (anger, fear, or happiness) applied to bodily arousal is influenced by past experience, he situation, and the reactions of others.

Perception, experience, attitudes, judgment, and many other mental factors also affect emotion. If you met a bear, you would be aroused. If the bear seemed unfriendly, you would interpret your arousal as fear, and if the bear offered to shake your hand, you would be happy, amazed, and relieved!

Attribution. Stuart Valins (1967) - Arousal can be attributed to various sources --a process that alters perceptions of emotion. In order to explain the arousal. "Oh wow, I must love you, too." Theory predicts that you are most likely to "love" someone who gets you stirred up emotionally, even when fear, anger, frustration, or rejection is part of the formula.

Facial Feedback Hypothesis. Carrol Izard (1977), psychologist. Face affects emotion. Facial feedback hypothesis: Emotional activity causes innately programmed changes in facial expression. The face then provides cues to the brain that help us to determine what emotion we are feeling. Having facial expressions and becoming aware of them is what leads to emotional experience.

Appraisal. Refers to evaluating the personal meaning of a stimulus: Is it good/bad, threatening/supportive, relevant/irrelevant, and so on. Each of the theories is partly true. The way a situation is appraised greatly affects the course of emotion.

Contemporary Model of Emotions (Main points of several theories together into one).


B Primary Emotions. Robert Plutchik (1980) concluded from research that there are 8 primary emotions, and each can vary in intensity (anger may vary from rage to annoyance).:

Mixed emotions. Plutchik felt that adjacent emotions can be mixed to yield a third, more complex emotion. And other mixtures possible. A child about to eat a stolen cookie may feel both joy and fear. The result? Guilt.


[Notes from: Coon, Dennis. Introduction to Psychology, Exploration and Application. St. Paul: West Publishing Company, 1989]



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