Theorys

Could someone go more indepth and help me better understand the emotional theories, ie., James lange theory, cannon bard, schachter and singer, and two factor theory? Thanks!

James Lange Theory of Emotion- A stimulus (like a person in a scary costume jumping out from behind a corner) causes physiological arousal within you (sympathetic nervous system activity), which results in your experience of emotion (“fear”). In this theory, your physiological response (your heart beating faster) comes before you actually have an emotional experience.

The Cannon-Bard Theory of Emotion- A stimulus (like a person in a scary costume jumping out from behind a corner) causes physiological changes (like your heart beating faster) AND your experience of emotion (“fear”) at same time.

Schacter-Singer Theory (also known as the Two-Factor Theory) of Emotion- A stimulus (like a person in a scary costume jumping out from behind a corner) causes physiological changes (just like above) AND your brain assigns a label to the circumstances (such as your environmental cues) which results in your experience of an emotion. The most important aspect of this theory is the addition of the cognitive label. Your emotion would change if your mind interprets the circumstances (and assigns a different label) differently. For example, if the person who jumps out to scare you is also your best friend, you would quickly label that as “non-threatening” and your initial fear would turn into laughter.

Keep in mind, that those are three theories that are trying to explain why and how we feel emotions. They each involve physiological arousal associated with various emotions (elevated heart rate, perspiration, faster breathing) and cognitive processes (how we think about the situation that is causing the emotion). For an example, let’s assume a person encounters an aggressive animal, such as a barking dog.

The James-Lange theory proposes that we encounter the dog, realize that it may be dangerous (cognitive process), and that triggers our bodies to react in a physiological way that is unique to being afraid (physiological arousal).

The Cannon-Bard theory proposes that assessing the situation and dog as being dangerous (cognitive process) happens simultaneously with starting to sweat or showing physical signs of fear (physiological arousal).

The two-factor or Schachter-Singer theory proposes that we are physiologically aroused in response to something first (being startled by the barking dog), then look around in the environment for what may have caused that arousal. Upon seeing the barking dog, we label (cognitive process) what we are feeling as fear.

The Cannon-Bard and two-factor theory propose that the arousal that we associate with various emotions is the same, but depend on the label we place on that arousal for the emotion that associate with the arousal. The James-Lange theory suggests that the physiological arousal for the various emotions are different, and possibly unique to that emotion.

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