Theories of Emotion

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There has been much dispute over how our brains create emotion. As of today, there are two accepted theories of how this occurs, The James-Lange Theory, one of the oldest cognitive theories derived from William James but also accredited to Carl Lange who worked on a similar theory around the same time, and also the Cannon-Bard Theory developed by Walter Cannon and Philip Bard. The James-Lange theory depicts emotion as resulting from our interpretations of our physiological reactions to stimuli. In other words, we may hear footsteps behind us while walking in a dark alley, our hear rate quickens and our palms start to sweat, after that we experience the emotion fear. This theory is supported by evidence of patients who suffered from spinal cord injuries, creating less bodily functions, experiencing less emotion. However, this evidence could be biases because the researcher knew which patients had spinal injuries and the findings have not been replicated. According to the Cannon-Bard Theory, an emotion inducing stimuli simultaneously produces both the emotion and the bodily reactions. For example, you may be awoken by a loud crash of thunder and become frightened and start breathing heavily at the same time. This theory is less flawed that the James-Lange Theory in that most bodily functions take a few seconds to occur and emotion is experienced right away, also many of us are unaware of these functions making it impossible for us to interpret them. Neither one has been proven right nor wrong but they both help us begin to understand how our brain and body work with emotions.

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Are there more modern theories of emotion that are more widely accepted? What new information are you trying to provide to people? What connections are you making beyond the textbook?

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This page contains a single entry by norqu035 published on November 6, 2011 12:13 PM.

Decisions: Nourishment or Comfort? was the previous entry in this blog.

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