Approaches to Emotion

By Klaus R. Scherer; Paul Ekman | Go to book overview

8 Emotions: A General Psychoevolutionary Theory

Robert Plutchik Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Examination of both the recent and historical literature on emotions, suggests that there are four major traditions that have developed over the past century. These may be characterized as the evolutionary tradition, identified with Charles Darwin; the psychophysiological tradition, derived from the writings of William James; the neurological tradition, identified with Walter Cannon; and the dynamic tradition, stemming from the work of Sigmund Freud. The following paragraphs provide thumbnail sketches of the views of these four pioneers.

Darwin assumed that the process of evolution applied not only to an animal's structures but to its "mind" and emotions as well. In his 1872 book titled The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals he gave numerous illustrations of the basic continuity of emotional expressions from lower animals to humans. For example, he pointed out that the baring of the fangs of the wolf is related to the sneer of the human adult. Also. many species of animals, including humans, show an apparent increase in body size during rage, due to erection of body hair or feathers, changes in posture, or expansion of air pouches. According to Darwin, emotions increase the chances of survival by being appropriate reactions to emergency events in the environment. In addition. emotions act as signals of future actions or intentions. Darwin's contributions have had a major influence on the developing field of ethology.

The theory of William James, first published in 1884, was concerned with a kind of chicken-and-egg problem, that is, which comes first, the feeling of an emotion or the physiological changes that are associated with it. Although the conclusion drawn by James has been attacked on various grounds over the past century, the very ambiguity of the problem has prevented a definitive resolution. The value of the approach appears to be in the impetus it has given to the

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Approaches to Emotion
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface xi
  • Questions About Emotion: An Introduction 1
  • References 7
  • 1: BIOLOGICAL APPROACH 9
  • 1: Emotion: A Neurobehavioral Analysis 13
  • References 34
  • 2: Hemispheric Asymmetry and Emotion 39
  • ACKNOWLEDGMENT 54
  • 3: Contributions from Neuroendocrinology 59
  • References 70
  • II DEVELOPMENTAL APPROACHES 73
  • 5: The Organization of Emotional Development 109
  • ACKNOWLEDGMENT 127
  • References 127
  • 6: Emotions in Infancy: Regulators of Contact and Relationships with Persons 129
  • Acknowledgments 154
  • III PSYCHOLOGICAL AND ETHOLOGICAL APPROACHES 159
  • 7: Affect Theory 163
  • ACKNOWLEDGMENT 194
  • References 194
  • 8: Emotions: A General Psychoevolutionary Theory 197
  • References 218
  • 9: Cognition, Emotion and Motivation: The Doctoring of Humpty-Dumpty 221
  • ACKNOWLEDGMENT 234
  • 10: The Interaction of Affect and Cognition 239
  • 11: Thoughts on the Relations Between Emotion and Cognition 247
  • ACKNOWLEDGMENT 255
  • References 255
  • 12: On Primacy of Affect 259
  • ACKNOWLEDGMENT 268
  • 13: A Perceptual Motor Theory of Emotion of Emotion 271
  • References 289
  • 4: On the Nature and Function of Emotion: A Component Process Approach 293
  • ACKNOWLEDGMENT 315
  • References 316
  • 15: Expression and the Nature of Emotion 319
  • ACKNOWLEDGMENT 340
  • 16: Animal Communication: Affect or Cognition? 345
  • Acknowledgments 363
  • References 363
  • IV SOCIOLOGICAL AND ANTHROPOLIGICAL APPROACHES 367
  • 17: Power, Status, and Emotions: A Sociological Contribution to A Psychophysiological Domain 369
  • References 381
  • 18: The Role of Emotion in Social Structure 385
  • ACKNOWLEDGEMENT 396
  • References 396
  • 19: The Emotions in Comparative Perspective 397
  • References 411
  • Author Index 413
  • Subject Index 423
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