Approaches to Emotion

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

Finally, it is clear that emotions have many functions and contribute to a wide range of activities. They are not different in this regard from perception and memory. Two functions given relatively little attention are the role emotion plays in providing information about the status of our processing systems and its role in organizing and integrating the behavioral machinery, so that both automatic and deliberative processes aim at common goals. The first function suggests that emotions act as gauges that provide an ongoing, moment by moment read-out of the state of the organism as it is engaged in problem solving. These broadly experienced subjective states tell us how we feel about events, how their representation strikes us, how we expect to feel about them later on, what outcomes we anticipate, and how well we expect to cope. Emotions are like states of energy and fatigue, vigor and hopelessness, and are clues to the functioning of the system (its stages and levels). Weiner and his colleagues ( Weiner, 1981) have made this point by suggesting that emotions are like a spectrum reflecting the arrangement of the cognitive (regulative) system in specific situations.

The second function suggests that emotions serve to integrate across the levels of the processing hierarchy. We have seen a dramatic illustration of this in our study of the development of anticipatory nausea in patients undergoing cancer chemotherapy. Patients receiving these noxious medications experience nausea and sometimes vomiting. The nausea rapidly conditions to taste (from the medications) and then may condition to concrete cues (needles, the nurse) in the immediate treatment situation. If the patient is also anxious while receiving his or her injections, the combination of taste and anxiety leads to the spread of the conditioning to a much wider range of cues, both concrete (sights of the hospital) and abstract (the thought that tomorrow requires a visit to the hospital). Simple, emotional reflexes (e.g., sensory elicited nausea), are integrated with concrete and abstract memory structures in the presence of fear and anxiety. Emotions play a critical role in organizing the regulative system so that its coping stage meshes with the demands of the environmental representation, and its lowest, automatic levels of processing are directed to the same ends as the highest, conceptual levels of processing. It may seem as if the emotional animal is decorticate. Not so. The emotional animal is using its cortex (higher level conceptual skills) in the service of a goal that is common to its schematic-perceptual processes, and primitive, sensory-motor processes.


REFERENCES

Ahles, T. A., Blanchard, E. B., & Leventhal, H. "Cognitive control of pain: Attention to the sensory aspects of the cold pressor stimulus". Cognitive Therapy and Research, 1983, 7, 159-178.

Ekman, P., & Friesen, W. Unmasking the face: A guide to recognizing the emotions from facial cues. Englewood Cliffs, NJ.: Prentice-Hall, 1975.

Ekman, P., Friesen, W., & Ellsworth, P. Emotion in the human face: Guidelines for research and integration of the findings. New York: Pergamon, 1972.

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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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