Theories Of Emotions Essay

911 words - 4 pages

Happiness, sadness, anger, and excitement are emotions people have felt at least once in their lives. The question about why people feel emotions is a debated topic among psychologists for a while as there are many debates on what emotions are. There are three major theories that have been developed over the last one hundred years: the Facial Feedback Theory, the James-Lange Theory, and the Cannon-Bard Theory. The theories and are still discussed today.

Smiling is associated with happiness, while frowning is associated with being sad. Other emotions have a specific facial movement that corresponds with it. Charles Darwin and William James both felt that facial movements greatly influenced emotions and helped people of various cultures understand one another. The psychologist, Paul Ekman, developed these findings into the Facial Feedback Theory in 1984. According to the theory, the brain interprets facial muscles moving as different types of emotions. An example would be that smiling indicates that one is happy. Ekman didn’t believe the theory one hundred percent until he traveled to observe an isolated group in Papua, New Guinea and discovered that their facial features expressed the emotions that they felt. After his trip, he further developed his theory to what it is now to help understand emotions. Along with the Facial Feedback theory there have been studies to prove if it is correct or not, and whether it should be accepted in the psychological community or not. One of the studies that was done in 2006 used the “pencil in mouth” test, which places a pencil horizontally between someone’s teeth to force their mouth into a smile. After the participants were ready, they’d be shown a picture of a smiling black person, and it was known to lessen racial prejudice. The Facial Feedback theory has been a controversial subject, as critics say how people with paralyzed facial muscles can still feel emotions. Those who support the Facial Feedback Theory respond by saying facial expressions influence one’s mood, not control them. Smiling is known to make one feel better by the action itself, but does not control the emotions that are felt.

When one sees a bear, their heart starts racing, and their body starts trembling, but what does that mean? One must be frightened, or at least that’s what the James-Lange Theory states. The James-Lange theory was officially developed in 1922 by the two men. First, William James, in 1890, came to his conclusion that bodily reactions form the basis of experiencing emotions. Carl Lange came to the same conclusion around the same time and their individual theories were combined. The basis of their theory explains how bodily reactions and emotions...

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