The Field Of Emotion Research

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The field of emotion research holds a number of conceptual questions, such as what exactly emotions are or how do conscious experiences of emotion and their physiological responses interplay. Three theories best plot the contrasts of this relationship; the common sense theory, the James-Lange theory and the Canon-Bard theory. The common sense theory states that the perception of a threatening stimulus facilitates the feeling of an emotion leading to corresponding bodily changes (Cameron & Jago, 2008). James-Lange theory, a direct opposition of the common sense theory, argues for emotion facilitation as a response to our physiological changes (Lang, 1994). Finally, Cannon-Bard’s theory assigns a joint responsibility to physiological…show more content…
Despite the association between emotional experiences and bodily changes had been around since Darwin’s descriptions of arousal-specific bodily responses (Darwin, 1872), James and Lange were the first to suggest that experiencing an emotion is driven by the changes in our autonomic nervous system (ANS) that were elicited by perceived stimuli. Furthermore, despite a vast amount of criticism, they highlighted the necessity of physiological changes in order for a full emotional experience to be experienced (Prinz, 2004). Many studies have therefore focused on the assumption of necessity of physiological feedback, without which no emotion should be felt. As such, researchers focused on either artificially probing emotional states by the use of adrenergic drugs such as ephedrine (Erdmann & Janke, 1978) or explored the ability to perceive emotions in patients with ANS failure (Heims, Critchley, Dolan, Mathias, & Cipolotti, 2004) or partial paralysis (Chwalisz, Diener, & Gallagher, 1988). While some of these findings were indeed supportive of the James-Lange theory, such as a greater emotional response with ephedrine compared to without it, others suggested an increase in emotional response in patients with a specific physiological injury. Understandably, these studies are important to explore the necessity and reversed causation of
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