Psychological and Biological Approaches to Emotion

By Nancy L. Stein; Bennett Leventhal et al. | Go to book overview

with emotional syndromes in general (e.g., anger, love, grief), we must extend consideration beyond the individual and relate the emotion to broader biological and social systems of behavior.

The second half of the chapter has presented a few observations on the development of emotional syndromes. Any theoretical account of emotional development on the individual level must begin with assumptions about the origin and function of emotional syndromes on the biological and social levels. A social-constructionist approach assumes that biological systems have become progressively relaxed during the course of human evolution. This does not mean that the influence of biological systems is negligible or that it can be ignored (as is evidenced by the ease of acquisition of some phobic reactions); it does mean, however, that social institutions have become a major vehicle for establishing and maintaining emotional syndromes.

Socialization is the process of emotional education, whereby the individual acquires the norms, rules, and practical skills that help constitute the various emotions. Much emotional socialization occurs in nonemotional contexts; that is, component processes may be acquired piecemeal, only later to be incorporated into a coherent syndrome. Language is an important element in this process. Leaming an emotional concept is not a matter of pinning a label on a pre- established internal state; rather, it is one of the means wherewith an emotional syndrome is reconstituted as a coordinate part of the social order and of the individual self.


ACKNOWLEDGMENT

Preparation of this chapter was supported, in part, by a grant (MH40131) from the National Institute of Mental Health.


REFERENCES

Aristotle. ( 1959). Politics ( H. Rackham, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Averill J. R. ( 1980). "A constructivist view of emotion". In R. Plutchik & H. Kellerman (Eds.), Emotion: Theory, research and experience: Vol. I. Theories of emotion (pp. 305-339). New York: Academic Press.

Averill J. R. ( 1982). Anger and aggression: An essay on emotion. New York: Springer-Verlag.

Averill J. R. ( 1984). "The acquisition of emotions during adulthood". In C. Z. Malatesta & C. E. Izard (Eds.), Emotion in adult development (pp. 23-43). Beverly Hills: Sage.

Averill J. R. (in press). "Emotions on episodic dispositions, cognitive schemas, and transitory social roles: Steps towards an integrated theory of emotion". In D. Ozer, J. M. Healy, & A. J. Stewart (Eds.), Perspectives in personality. (Vol. 3) Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.

Bateson G. ( 1976). "Some components of socialization for trance". In T. Schwartz (Ed.), Socialization as cultural communication (pp. 51-63). Berkeley: University of California Press.

Bowlby J. ( 1982). Attachment and loss. Vol. I: Attachment ( 2nd ed.). New York: Basic Books.

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