Theories of Emotion: James–Lange, Canon–Bard and Schachter–Singer – Emotion (PSY)

by Tarry Ahuja, MD

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    00:00 Now let's get into some of the different theories of emotion.

    00:06 And we are going to go over three main theories of emotion.

    00:08 And we are going to talk about how those three components behavioral, cognitive and physiological components shape that different theory.

    00:16 The first we're going to start with is the James-Lang Theory.

    00:21 In this theory they support the fact that physiological and behavioral response is to stimulate, trigger the cognitive aspect of emotion.

    00:30 So let's break that down in English for you.

    00:31 So what we're saying here is one of the first components to take in would be the physiological components.

    00:38 So how was your body reacting to the stimulus that's presented in front of you.

    00:42 The second component is the behavioral response.

    00:44 So behavioral really what is your action to that stimulus.

    00:48 So we're going to walk through that example of what that means and that might make more sense.

    00:56 So we run with the bear and now we're talking about the lion.

    00:58 I guess we're having some bad luck with animals.

    01:00 So this time instead of walking through the forest, we just happened to be through the jungle.

    01:04 And all of sudden Simba comes and he is presented right in front of you.

    01:08 And you're looking at Simba.

    01:10 And right away physiologically having a lion roaring at you, you are going to get a physiological response.

    01:17 And that physiological response with a lion, runs away, we already talked about.

    01:21 Increase heart rate, sweating, blood pressure, all of these will be alleviated because you are arouse of the situation, okay.

    01:27 So second thing that's going to happen is, you are going to behaviorally respond to that.

    01:33 Typically that means is running away, putting arms in the air.

    01:36 You might also make the choice to I'm going to have a nice battle with Simba.

    01:41 Because I think I can beat him.

    01:42 And then that will lead to your cognition or how you interpret that response, okay.

    01:48 So support of this includes some examples where the sequence of events makes sense.

    01:54 So let's look at smiling.

    01:57 Now if somebody asked you to smile and you're not really smiling to a joke that somebody told you.

    02:03 We know through evidence that actually will change your mood.

    02:09 So if I say to you right now, with your MCAT book in front of you, look up and smile at me.

    02:15 Now, what that's doing is it's actually activating parts of your brain let's say,I'm smiling, and you emotionally start to feel a bit benefit of me forcing you to smile, okay.

    02:28 As opposed to when you are presented with something funny.

    02:33 A great joke.

    02:34 Physiologically you get a response and then behaviorally you get a response.

    02:40 That cognitively will take time to process that and say, "Hey that was a really good joke." "I'm feeling quite happy." Now, this theory isn't perfect as all theories they shift over time.

    02:54 We found some weaknesses in this theory for you.

    02:56 So, the first one is that each emotion originates some distinctive physiological states.

    03:02 So that's really not the truth.

    03:04 We know that many emotional states will have very similar physiological patterns.

    03:09 Let's have a look at two that are quite common fear and sexual arousal.

    03:13 Sometimes they go hand in hand.

    03:14 Most of the time they are separate.

    03:16 So when you're scared of something, you are going to have increasing heart rate.

    03:20 You are going to have that sweating.

    03:21 You are going to have an increase in blood pressure.

    03:24 But you are going to see a lot of those same physiological patterns if you're sexually aroused.

    03:29 You see your beautiful wife or husband across the street.

    03:34 The first time you saw them.

    03:35 You know, may be your heart skipped a beat.

    03:37 May be that sweaty palms.

    03:38 You were very excited by this person.

    03:40 Physiologically the patterns are identical but the emotion is different, okay.

    03:45 So that's one weakness.

    03:46 Because the James-Lang theory would be unable to explain that phenomenon.

    03:52 The second thing is the assumption of how we possess the ability to label physiological states accurately.

    03:57 We also cannot do that.

    03:58 So physiological states can be interpreted differently based on the contexts.

    04:03 Anxiety versus excitement.

    04:04 And this brings us back to sort of the bear versus a party.

    04:08 And both of these scenarios are completely different.

    04:11 But the states can be interpreted differently based on that context.

    04:18 Now, next theory I'm going to look at is the Cannon-Bard theory.

    04:21 And here we are looking at some similar components.

    04:24 It's always going to be same components.

    04:25 But it's sort of the order.

    04:27 So here in the Cannon-Bard theory, we're saying physiological and cognitive responses to a stimuli occur simultaneously and independently.

    04:34 So in the previous model they happened in sequence.

    04:36 In here they are happening in parallel.

    04:38 So what we are saying that when we are presented with stimulus, physiological and cognitive responses will happen simultaneously.

    04:46 They are going to get processed independently and that will lead to a behavioral reaction.

    04:50 Okay, so we're saying physiological, cognitive happening at the same time.

    04:55 And this leads to a behavioral reaction.

    04:57 As opposed to the previous one, things were happening in sequence.

    05:00 This model is able to explain the overlap in physiological states between emotions.

    05:06 So for example, fear and sexual arousal, because they are happening in parallel, you could have that similar physiological response for having different ultimate emotional experience.

    05:16 The issue here those who are unable to explain the phenomenon which behavior responses and influences the physiological and cognitive aspect of emotion.

    05:24 So back to back smiling example.

    05:25 Is that this model would be unable to explain how just smiling in itself, me telling you right now to smile will actually lead to increase states of happiness.

    05:35 So we'll be unable to actually explain that using this model.

    05:38 So we again know that this model isn't perfect.

    05:41 But it's another way to explain the ultimate end goal which is explaining our emotion.

    05:48 The third one is Schachter-Singer Theory.

    05:51 And what we're saying here is that physiological arousal leads to conscious cognitive interpretation based on circumstance.

    05:57 So now again we further complicate the model here.

    06:00 And we're saying that we're going to look at the situation based in front of us and we are going to interpret that situation.

    06:05 And that will then go on to feedback to allow us to assess what is the appropriate emotion to assign.

    06:12 So, this model is good in explaining the overlap in physiological states between emotions such as fear and sexual arousal.

    06:22 So again in the previous example we said how do we explain the fact that two completely different scenarios, very similar physiological states, that emotion associated which each is different.

    06:32 Well this model will allow us to do it because we're saying that there is a cognitive interpretation in this situation.

    06:38 So again in English we're saying, we are trying to figure out what's happening right now in front of us.

    06:43 And that will then go back to feedback and shape the ultimate emotion that we are going to express.

    06:47 So are you scared right now? Or are you sexually aroused? This model however, is unable to explain the phenomenon on which behavioral responses influences the physical and cognitive aspects of emotion.

    07:00 So again how can we explain.

    07:02 How do this model explain or really can't, how smiling leads to happiness.

    07:06 Because if I'm telling you right now to smile, theoretically you should be able to say, "Well, this is a fake smile, that I'm giving to you right now." "So how am I actually experiencing happiness." I really shouldn't because I should know that this is a fake smile.

    07:22 So sometimes you are in a scenario where you actually having to fake smiles.

    07:26 So meeting your girlfriend's parents for the first time.

    07:30 Hi, Mr. Johnson how are you? And really inside, you are not happy.

    07:33 You are scared.

    07:35 But you are expressing happiness.

    07:37 And overtime that eases some of the tension that you feeling.

    07:41 And that fake smile can actually turn into a little bit of happiness.

    07:45 Well this model wouldn't necessary be able to explain that because according to this model, you cognitively would be aware of the fact that you were extremely scared right now.

    07:53 There should be no improvement in happiness in that emotion.

    07:59 Now let's walk through each of these and we are going to look at them schematically and we look at how they differentiate between what I just showed you.

    08:08 So in the James-Lang theory, we are presented with, we say emotional inducing stimulus, in English a scenario.

    08:14 So a bear.

    08:16 Now we know in this model that we are going to have a physiological response and a behavioral response.

    08:22 And then that is going to lead to a cognitive interpretation of the situation which gives us our emotion, okay.

    08:30 Now in the Cannon-Bard theory, we are again going to have the bear, but we are going to have physiological response, and we are going to have a conscious interpretation of what's happening in front of us.

    08:41 That will go on to lead to a behavioral response which will ultimately lead to the eventual emotion that we want to express.

    08:48 And then in the third model, we see that we have our bear.

    08:52 We have physiological response.

    08:54 And now we have an interpretation of that response which leads to the labeling of emotion and the resultant the behavioral response.

    09:01 So I want you to realize here that we have three models, looking at the same three components, but in terms of sequence of events and how each influences the previous, we have a different explanation of how we actually label and experience that emotion.

    About the Lecture

    The lecture Theories of Emotion: James–Lange, Canon–Bard and Schachter–Singer – Emotion (PSY) by Tarry Ahuja, MD is from the course Responding to the World.

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. James-Lange Theory
    2. Cannon-Bard Theory
    3. Schachter-Singer Two Factor Theory
    4. James- Lange Theory & Cannon-Bard Theory
    5. James- Lange Theory & Schachter-Singer Two Factor Theory
    1. Schachter-Singer Two Factor Theory.
    2. Cannon-Bard Theory.
    3. James- Lange Theory
    4. James-Lange Theory & Cannon-Bard Theory.
    5. James-Lange Theory & Schachter-Singer Two Factor Theory.
    1. Cannon-Bard Theory.
    2. James- Lange Theory.
    3. Schachter-Singer Two Factor Theory.
    4. James- Lange Theory & Cannon-Bard Theory.
    5. Cannon-Bard Theory & Schachter-Singer Two Factor Theory.
    1. James-Lange Theory.
    2. Cannon-Bard Theory.
    3. Schachter-Singer Two Factor Theory.
    4. James-Lange Theory & Cannon-Bard Theory.
    5. Cannon-Bard Theory & Schachter-Singer Two Factor Theory
    1. Cannon-Bard Theory.
    2. James-Lange Theory.
    3. James-Lange Theory & Cannon-Bard Theory.
    4. Cannon-Bard Theory & Schachter-Singer Two Factor Theory.
    5. James-Lange Theory & Schachter-Singer Two Factor Theory.

    Author of lecture Theories of Emotion: James–Lange, Canon–Bard and Schachter–Singer – Emotion (PSY)

     Tarry Ahuja, MD

    Tarry Ahuja, MD

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