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Define emotion

- a physiological or bodily change
- the cause of this change is 'appraised' by an individual
- one then decides on an appropriate behavioural response based on the interpretation

Damasio (2000):
- emotions are physiological responses to external stimuli
- feelings are conscious interpretations of„ the emotion that occur when the brain appraises the cause of the emotion


evolutionary explanation of emotion

- useful survival mechanism
- 'fight or flight' mode allows animals to react to quickly to possible dangers
- cognitive „factors (e.g. appraisal) may help moderate physiological and psychological reactions to stimuli


biological role in emotion

- amygdala: associated with processing emotions and emotional memory
- hippocampus: integral to the process of encoding explicit memory (e.g. semantic, procedural, episodic, etc)
- Phelps (2004): in stressful situations, the amygdala alters the process of memory encoding and storage of explicit memories so that emotional events receive priority


importance of amygdala in emotion

- during stressful situations, the hormones adrenaline and cortisol are activated
- humans can only control irrational fear to some extent, and in those cases where they can't control it, they experience panic attacks
- anxiety, phobias, panic disorders, and PTSD indicate a malfunction in the brain€s ability to control fear
- damage to the amygdala causes 0 fear response -- this may endanger survival in dangerous situations


theory of the emotional brain

LeDoux (1999):
- evolutionary theory
- based on the fact that it's important to detect and respond to danger instantly
- feelings help us evaluate the level of„ danger before responding
- LeDoux claims that 2 responses to danger are possible

Short response:
- amygdala reacts immediately by activating response systems (i.e. fight or flight‚)
- very usef„ul where a quick reaction can make the diff„„erence between lif„e and death

Long response:
- sensory input goes via the sensory cortex to the hippocampus
- involves evaluation of„ the stimulus and consideration o„f an appropriate response (appraisal)


appraisal theory

Lazarus (1975):
- cognitive „factors modulate our stress responses, i.e. our physiological and psychological reactions
- appraisal: evaluation o„f a situation, including one's own psychological and material resources
- we base our response on our appraisal

Main study: Speisman et al. (1964)


Speisman et al. (1964)

- young male participants were shown anxiety-evoking films (an aboriginal rite of circumcision)
- 4 soundtrack conditions: trauma ‚(emphasizes pain), intellectualization (emphasizes traditions of aboriginal culture), denial (emphasizes the boys' feelings of anticipation of the circumcision), and no soundtrack
- participants' physiological (e.g. heart rate, galvanic skin

- participants in trauma condition‚ showed much higher physiological„ stress
- showed that manipulating cognitive appraisal had a signifiƒcant impact on physiological stress reactions
- this supports both LeDoux (1999) and Lazarus (1975)


evidence against the interaction of cognitive and biological

Zajonc (1980): in some cases emotional responses may be directly triggered without the prior involvement of cognition


conclusion: to what extent do cognitive and biological factors interact in emotion?

- cognitive and biological factors are both essential to emotion
- as demonstrated by Speisman et al (1964), emotion cannot arise in the absence of cognition
- Zajonc (1980) has a different interpretation of cognition than what was meant -- in this case cognition means basic, automatic, and largely unconscious perceptual processes
- cognitive and biological f„actors interact in emotion to a significant extent, but in complex ways that are not fully understood
- emotions may influence cognitive processes such as memory, and cognitive processes may influence emotions, but not much is known about how physiology ties in with all of this


"to what extent"

- discuss the validity of an argument
- give both sides of the argument
- give judgment by emphasizing the strengths of some arguments over others
- give judgment on the relative importance of factors (biological/cognitive/sociocultural), on the theory/behaviour: how important is ____? Why is it ____? Is it culture- or gender-specific?
- present all opinions with evidence

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