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Emotions Research and Theories

Emotion is a feeling that causes physical and psychological changes as well as, influence thought and behavior. Like motivation emotion is categorized into three separate categories: neurological, physiological, and cognitive. Emotionality is associated with a range of psychological phenomena including temperament, personality, mood, and motivation (Cherry, 2010).

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Emotion is both an intrinsic and extrinsic source of motivation. The emotions that we feel internally drive us like an instinct.

Externally what we experience teaches us how to react in the future. The James-Lange theory was an early theory individually discovered by two scientists in the 20th century, William James and Carl Lange. The James-Lange theory states that emotions happen because of physiological reactions to events. For example; you are walking down the street and see a person who wronged you in the past; your teeth clench and you nostrils flare. The William-Lange theory proposes that you will interpret your physical reactions and conclude what emotion you feel. “My face tightened therefore I am angry. ) The Cannon- Bard theory sought to dispel the William-Lange theory and stated that we feel emotions and experience physiological reactions such as, trembling, sweating, and muscle tension simultaneously. Example- the toddler sees a doctor with a needle and is scared so she cries. The cognitive arousal theory focuses on the interaction between the two arousal and cognition. The first experiment for this theory was created by Schachter& Singer in 1962.

This theory focuses on two dimensions of emotion the quality and intensity. They believed that emotion was produced with psychological arousal. When someone is aroused psychologically this can produce a variety of feelings. For example, anger, fear, happiness, anxiety, or sadness depending on the intensity some kind of action will be produced behind these emotions. For instance, a student that lives in a dorm room alone she is just watching television then suddenly hears a struggle to get her door open.

Immediately she feels fear and anxiety her next action will be determine by the intensity of her emotions. The arousal in this case would be everything she is thinking is it a burglary, she can get hurt in the process, or is someone there to hurt her. The first thing she grabs is a knife and some mace her father gave her before leaving for college. Her second move would be to call 911. Therefore this scenario proves this theory is correct if there were not any psychological arousal there would not been any action (DeckersL. 2010).

Category analysis is a way of analyzing emotion with the study of words associated with that emotion (Deckers, 2010). Category analysis assumes that the development of words happened to describe the emotional experiences of individuals (Deckers,2010), “in other words, the reason for words such as love, hate, sad, happy, afraid, and angry is because each labels a distinctly unique feeling in a particular situation” (Deckers, 2010. p. 317). These words exist because people have experienced a specific feeling and associated that word to that feeling.

To understand the different ways a person express his or her emotions Johnson-Laird and Oatley did a study of 590 English words meanings to classify each word into an emotion category, and words with similar meanings are classified together (Deckers, 2010). One concern with their study was determining if a “word” used to describe a feeling was subjective. Though their research the results were; categories of five basic emotions, which are happiness, fear, sadness, disgust, and anger.

Happiness, fear, sadness, disgust, and anger are words describe basic emotions (Deckers, 2010) Facial expressions are another research method used for uncover basic emotions. The thought in reference to facial expressions is that basic emotions have facial expressions is in accord with that emotion, such as a frown coincides with sadness (Deckers, 2010). Ekman and Izard reported, “If there is no distinctive facial expression, then the corresponding subjective state should not be considered an emotion facial expression” (Deckers, 2010, p. 18). Ekman along with Izard discovered that facial expressions together with emotions were precisely identifiable by people of differing cultures worldwide, which inspired Ekman’s proposal of the six basic emotions along with the matching facial expressions. The six basic emotions that have recognizable facial expressions are surprise, happiness, fear, sadness, disgust, and anger. The more dramatic the facial expression, the stronger the emotion is for the individual.

Lopatovska and Arapakis (2010), “facial expressions, are the result of facial muscle contractions, which induce movements of the facial skin and temporary deformations of the facial features, such as eyebrows, nose, and mouth” (p. 5). For example, an individual usually expresses sadness through his or her eyes, eyebrows, and mouth regions. Ekman asserts that “in sadness, the inner corners of brows are drawn up, skin below the eyebrow is triangulated with the inner corner up, upper eyelid inner corner is raised, corners of lips are down or the lip is trembling” (as cited in Lopatovska & Arapakis, 2010, p. 5).

Facial expressions are a channel for emotions associated with the effect of the emotions, and serve as a universal language, which enriches the interactions between humans. Many studies of Facial Feedback Hypothesis simply say facial expression is the emotional responds to a person’s emotional feelings. One does not cause the other, but both are in response to an emotion stimulus (Buck, 1984, 1985). Viewing cartoons evokes smiles, laughs, and feelings of amusement (Decker, 1994). Unpleasant scenes such as traffic accidents and ritual suicides however evoke facial expression indicating that the feelings induced are unpleasant (Zuckerman et al. 1981).

All are affects from an emotional stimulus but one does not have an effect on the other. The more intensified the stimulus the more intensified the facial expression. For example, if you find something funny you may just smile but, the funnier the situation the smile will eventually turn into laughter. The Event-Appraisal-Emotion Sequence can be broken up into four different emotion-inducing situations: (1) different appraisal of different events can produce different emotions. 2) the same appraisal of different events can produce the same emotion (3) the outcome of the appraisal process elicits the involuntary unfolding of emotion (4) appraisal can happen both above and below the level of awareness (Deckers, 2005). This simple says that first an emotion is introduced. Then that emotion is predetermining which way it should go, either negative or positive. After the emotion determines which way to go it starts to see which personal scheme, attitudes, or need it wants to display.

Last but not least the emotion is transformed in and affect which is a physiological response, expression, and or a behavior. In conclusion, emotion is something that we all have, some emotions are more noticeable than others and some are hidden, it can be physical and psychological, and influences behavior, emotions are a strong set of feelings that can change rapidly from person to person, emotions influence motivation and cause people to do what they do. There are many theories and hypothesis that try to explain emotion and try to understand why people feed off of three emotions.