Useful Notes on the Theories of Emotions
3. Cognitive Theory.
4. Opponent-Process Theory.
5. Plutchik’s Psycho-evolutionary Theory.
1. James-Lang Theory:
According to this theory, emotion is the perception of bodily changes. It was put forward in 1884-85 by William James and Carl Lange. According to this theory, first bodily changes occur and then an emotional changes i.e. bodily change precedes the emotional experience. According to this theory, following sequences are very important in the experience of emotion.
(i) Perception of an emotion producing situation.
(ii) Occurrence of bodily change
(iii) Perception and feed-back of these bodily changes.
(iv) Emotional experience.
According to this theory, we feel sad because we cry and experience fear because we run away. This theory is criticised on the ground that in general our perception of internal changes is not very accurate.
In short, according to this theory, bodily changes occur first and the emotional experience occur later.
2. Cannon Bard Theory:
According to this theory, emotion and bodily changes occur simultaneously but are independent of each other.
The two scientists who were primarily responsible for criticising the James-Lange theory and formulating an alternative theory was Walter B. Cannon and Philip Bard.
The subjective experience of emotion and the bodily changes are concurrent. Thus, Cannon-
Bard theory says that the felt emotion and the bodily reactions are independent of each other, both occur simultaneously.
According to Cannon Bard Theory, information from the outside word first reaches the cerebral cortex. If the cortex decides that the situation is emotional in nature it sends message to thalamus. The Thalamus becomes active and sends two messages simultaneously hut independently in two different directions
(i) The first message is sent to the visceral organs which gives rise to bodily changes.
(ii) The second message is sent back to cerebral cortex which gives rise to emotional experience.
The research evidence in favour of this theory is very sketchy. However, this theory for the first time pointed out towards the role of lower brain areas in causation of emotion.
3. Cognitive Theory of Emotion by Schachter and Singer:
Emotion we experience is an interpretation of given situation. This theory maintains that an emotion we feel is our interpretation of an aroused, or stirred up, bodily state.
The sequence of events in the production of emotional feelings, according to this theory is:
(i) Perception of emotion producing situation.
(ii) A stirred up bodily state which arises from the perception and which is ambiguous.
(iii) Interpretation and labelling of the state so that it fits the perceived situation.
Both experimental evidence and informal observation give some support to the Schachter Singer Theory. Similarly, over the years, Richard
Lazarus and his co-workers have developed a theory of emotions that emphasise a person’s appraisal or interpretation, of environmental situation.
Cognitive Theory of Emotion:
According to cognitive theory an individual integrates information from these three sources and interprets the .given situation. It is this interpretation that give rise to a particular emotion.
4. Opponent Process Theory of Emotion:
This theory of emotion was presented by Richard Soloman and John Corbit in 1974. According to this theory the changes in various emotional reactions follow a typical pattern.
An emotional situation (for e.g., news about failure in exam) give rise to a particular emotion (sadness). This emotion gradually increases and reaches a peak. The emotion will then level-off and will remain as long as the situation remains. However, if the situation is withdrawn (i.e. if you come to know that news about your failure in exams is false) and in reality you have passed, not only will the present emotion (sadness) disappear but a completely opposite emotion (happiness) will occur. Thus, we see that the processes are opposite of each other.
5. Plutchik’s Psycho-Evolutionary Theory:
This theory was given by Robert Plutchik. This theory explains the various ways in which primary or basic emotions can be mixed together.
In order to show the relationships among emotions, Plutchik assumes that they differ in three ways:
(ii) Similarity to one another.
(iii) Polarity or oppositeness.
He uses these three dimensions-intensity, similarity and polarity to draw a spatial model representing the relationships among the emotioners.
Plutchik maintains that these primary emotions are derived from evolutionary processes and therefore, has an adaptive value.