PSY 355 Emotions Paper
PSY 355 Emotions Paper
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Date Created: 11/13/15
Running head: EMOTIONS 1 Emotions Names PSY355/Motivational Processes in Human Psychology Instructor EMOTIONS 2 Emotions Emotions and arousal vary from person to person. Experiences, knowledge, mood, and the environment have roles in what emotions people display and the amount of arousal they feel. Emotions have been discussed for hundreds of years from philosophers to modern day psychologists to determine how they develop and why they differ from person to person. Some theories have been developed over the years and have been studied thoroughly using a variety of research methods. The facial feedback hypothesis has garnered much attention from a variety of fields to determine if people experience similar facial expressions based on the same stimuli. Historical Theories of Emotion and Arousal The YerkesDodson law states “low arousal produces maximal performance on difficult tasks, and high arousal produces maximal performance on easy tasks” (Deckers, 2010, p. 134). This law believes there is U shaped function between arousal and performance (Deckers, 2010). High levels of arousal produce high levels of performance, whereas low levels of arousal produce low levels of performance (Deckers, 2010). If there is too little arousal, tasks can be easily ignored, causing the arousal to have little influence on performance. When arousal is too high, performance may suffer because of anxiety. Research has shown that diverse tasks necessitate different intensities of arousal for best performance (Deckers, 2010). For example, complicated or mentally challenging tasks such as writing a paper or studying for a test could entail the need for a lesser stage of arousal to assist attentiveness. Task tough stamina or determination tasks would be performed best with an elevated level of arousal to amplify motivation. The form of the U curve can be extremely inconsistent because of task differences (Deckers, 2010). For undemanding or memorized tasks, EMOTIONS 3 the correlation is considered to be linear with progress in performance as arousal is enhanced (Deckers, 2010). For multifaceted, untried, or tricky tasks, the correlation between arousal and performance becomes contrary with deterioration in performance as arousal is amplified (Deckers, 2010). When the curve is moving upward, arousal has an energizing effect, whereas the curve turning downward is considered to have a negative effect on arousal, on both the cognitive and emotional aspects of individuals (Deckers, 2010). This includes the ability to solve problems, retain or recall memory, and perform simple cognitive tasks. Another theory on emotion was postulated by Walter B. Cannon. He was one of the first to systematically to investigate and research emotions (CannonBard Theory of Emotion, 2010). Cannon gathered evidence to showcase the hormone of adrenaline for the flight or fight reaction (CannonBard, 2010). Cannon postulated that stimulation may occur at the time an emotion is being felt, yet there is also a physiological change. For example, a person may be out on a hike when she comes across a mountain lion. She feels a sense of panic, urgency, and fear. Her body begins to prepare for flight or fight. Cannon proposed a specific sequence for this theory on emotion; event equals simultaneous arousal and emotion (CannonBard, 2010). The body reacts to stimuli from the thalamus receiving a signal that is sent to the amygdale (Brown & Fee, 2002). At that point the signal is connected with an emotion that has already been learned (Brown & Fee, 2002). Depending on what emotion is registered from the brain, determines the type of reaction that will occur. From the earlier example, some people may react in fear and run away, or they find excitement from this specific experience and stay. EMOTIONS 4 Research Methods for Uncovering Basic Emotions A variety of research methods have been used in the study of human emotions and have been researched diligently for many years. Studies can range from determining what triggers anger, sadness, or fear to what brings about feelings of depression and anxiety. New discoveries and ideas regarding human emotions fuel many theories that have been studied along with the theories that will develop. One particular study that has had a significant impact on the study of human emotions is the Little Albert experiment performed by John B. Watson and one of his graduate students, Rosalie Raynor. Watson believed that humans could be classically conditioned to elicit certain emotional responses when presented with specific stimuli. To test his theory, he performed the Little Albert experiment. Watson and Raynor posed several key questions prior to conducting this experiment. Their main priority in conducting this experiment was to figure out whether or not they would be able to condition the emotion of fear by presenting a white rat along with a loud noise. If the conditioning of this fear was possible, they also wanted to delve deeper by observing whether or not the conditioned fear could create a stimulus generalization. Additionally, they were curious about how long this conditioned fear would remain a part of the child’s reactions to the stimuli being presented. The subject of Watson’s study was Albert, a nine monthold baby. “Watson and Raynor exposed the child to a series of stimuli including a white rat, a rabbit, a monkey, masks, and burning newspapers and observed the boy's reactions” (Cherry, 2010, para. 2). When the child was initially introduced to the various stimuli, he showed no emotional responses toward any of the items. Watson then began to show the child the white rat accompanied by a loud noise. EMOTIONS 5 After hearing the loud noise, Albert would cry. Watson continued to show Albert the white rat accompanied by the loud noise in an attempt to condition Albert to fear the white rat because of the loud noise that had been paired with it. After time, Albert would cry when exposed to only the white rat. As a result of Watson’s experiments, Albert had been conditioned to fear the white rat because of the loud noise that accompanied it. In addition to Albert being conditioned to fear the white rat, he also developed a general fear of similar objects. This was referred to as stimulus generalization, which is the “tendency for the conditioned stimulus to evoke similar responses after the response has been conditioned” (Cherry, 2010, para. 6). Watson’s Little Albert experiment has been heavily criticized throughout the years. Many believe that the use of the child in this experiment was unethical because it could have caused longterm damage to the child. A second method used in discovering basic emotions is correlation research. Correlation research determines the relationship between two or more variables (Eric, Anderman, & Anderman, 2009). Researchers gather data from multiple variables then apply correlational statistical procedures to determine the relationship among those variables (Eric et al., 2009). This type of research attempts to investigate a range of issues that include the nature of the relationship between the various variables along with a theoretical model that may be developed and tested to explain the correlation between particular variables (Eric et al., 2009). A researcher can use a group of people, known as test subjects, to discover what emotions develop when shown pictures of injured animals. People who consider themselves animal lovers would be distressed or show concern when viewing pictures of animals being injured. Those not attached to animals in any way do not show any distress or concern. The variables in this case EMOTIONS 6 would be the emotions and the pictures being used on the test subjects. Correlational research does not mean causation and allows the researchers to make only weak casual inference about the variable being applied (Eric et al., 2009). This form of research helps establish hypothesis that can later be tested using more vigorous research methods. EventAppraisalEmotion Sequence Immediately after birth humans can show an array of emotions. One of the most descriptive ways to show emotion is by using facial expressions. Surprisingly enough facial expressions are innate, even babies can smile, show anger, and cry at a relatively young age. People’s emotions are directly involved with their facial expressions. People may feel sad or angry and their face will relate to that emotion, but in some situations people may be feeling sad but put on a smile to hide their emotions. Facial expressions are not only used to show emotions but are also crucial when telling a story or giving directions. “Studies have shown that when spoken words are combined with the appropriate facial expressions, people are twice as likely to understand what is being said and far more likely to remember it” (Womack, 2004 para. 5). The facial feedback theory revolves around the idea that if people are forced to portray an emotion, they will eventually feel that emotion. Each person possesses different ways of showing different emotions and which situations flare up each emotion. “For example, the breakup of their romantic relationship induces sadness in one partner and relief in the other. Second, the same appraisal of different events produces the same emotion. “Third, the outcome of the appraisal process elicits the involuntary unfolding of emotion” (Deckers, 2010, p. 338). In the eventappraisalemotion sequence there is some type of stimulus that invokes emotion. EMOTIONS 7 Prior to awareness a person may put a negative emphasis on the situation, which is called the preaware appraisal (Deckers, 2010). This occurs until the person analyzes the situation and becomes aware of the situation, known as aware appraisal (Deckers, 2010). They reanalyze the information from before, start thinking about it more cognitively, and incorporate their personal emotions (Decker, 2010). The last stage is called emotion unfold because this is the stage that the final emotion is revealed (Deckers, 2010). The emotion will be positive or negative, and the sequence includes both stages. Depending on the person it can go either way. No two people are alike, therefore their emotions are different. One 16 yearold will be elated about the idea of a used car, although another would be extremely disappointed with the thought of not acquiring a brand new car. The eventappraisalemotion sequence depicts these types of situations. This process takes seconds to go through and the facial expression shown at the end may take years to forget. Conclusion The YerkesDodson law attempts to explain how emotions and arousal relate to performance. High levels of arousal equal high levels of performance, but when arousal is too high, performance will suffer. When arousal levels are low, performance is low, yet when levels of arousal are too low, performance will suffer because of a lack of motivation or interest. The CannonBeard theory endeavors to explain a sequence of events; event equals simultaneous arousal and emotion. The fight or flight theory involves adrenaline, a state of arousal. Depending on the level of arousal will dictate whether they will stay and fight or take flight. Research methods vary depending on the researchers and the subjects they wish to investigate. Watson used the Little Albert experiment to determine whether or not people can be EMOTIONS 8 conditioned to fear particular objects. The results of his research proved positive, but many people the means he used to prove his hypothesis. Correlation research uses two or more variables to establish a relationship. This type of research allows the investigator to make only weak causal inference on the subject of study. Correlational research does not mean causation but does allow investigators to test their hypothesis regarding two or more variables that may relate in one way or another. The facial feedback hypothesis, specifically the eventappraisalemotion sequence has been studied for many years. People go through three stages; preaware appraisal, aware appraisal, and the emotion unfold stage. This sequence of events takes place quickly and without much thought to the process. The result is either a positive or negative emotion. The final emotion stems from people’s experiences, knowledge, and mental state. Psychologists have postulated many theories over the years. Research will continue to be the only way to successfully prove theories and hypothesis on emotion and how arousal affects performance. With increasing scientific breakthroughs, people can look forward to more discoveries on emotions in the future. EMOTIONS 9 References Brown, T., & Fee, E. (2002, Ocotober). Walter Bradford cannon/pioneer physiologist of human emotions. American Journal of Public Health, 92(10), 15941595. CannonBard Theory of Emotion. (2010). Changingminds.org. Retrieved from http://changingminds.org/explanations/theories/cannon_bard_emotion.htm#References Cherry, K. (2010). The Little Albert Experiment. Retrieved from http://psychology.about.com/od/classicpsychologystudies/a/littlealbertexperiment.htm Deckers, L. (2010). Motivation. biological, psychological, and environmental. (3 ed.). Boston, Ma: Pearson/Allyn & Bacon. Watson, J. & Raynor, R. (1920). Emotional Reactions and Psychological Experimentation. American Journal of Psychology, 28, 163174. Womack, D. (2004). Facial Feedback Hypothesis. AIGA. Retrieved from http://www.aiga.org/content.cfm/facialfeedbackhypothesis
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