Emotions are an incredible part of human behavior. Without any emotion, we humans will probably be unable to show how we feel about things that matter to us. Strong emotions make us do things that show how we are feeling through the moment. Ever thought about what our emotions mean to us, why do we even feel them, or why do we have to convey our emotions to someone to make them understand our feelings?
In order to the theory of feelings, in this blog, we will understand what emotion is and what the six major theories of emotion are. So, let’s get started.
Introduction to Emotions
Emotion is defined as a complex state of feeling that consequences in psychological or physical changes that basically influence our thoughts and behaviors. Emotions are related to a range of psychological features that includes personality, mood, temperament, and motivation. Moreover, according to psychologists, human emotions also include expressive behaviors, conscious experience, and physiological arousal.
Theories of Emotion
The major six theories of emotions are basically grouped into three main categories:
- Physiological Theories
- Neurological Theories
- Cognitive Theories
● Physiological Theories
Physiological theories basically recommend about the responses that are generated within the body are related to emotions.
● Neurological Theories
Neurological theories recommend the activities that are led by our brain through responses shared by our ongoing emotions.
● Cognitive Theories
Cognitive theories suggest that thoughts or other mental health-related activities play an important part in the formation of emotions.
6 Major Theories of Emotion
Below is the description of six theories of emotion:
1. Evolutionary Theory of Emotion
Evolutionary theory was developed by Charles Darwin, a famous naturalist, who suggested that emotions evolve with time because they are adaptive in nature and they also allow animals and humans in survival and reproduction. According to research, affection and love make people look for their partners and reproduce. Meanwhile, compel and fear lead to fight or feel emotions that are dangerous or toxic.
Evolutionary theory tells us about the existence of emotions. It suggests that emotions are adaptive roles. Generally, our emotions motivate us to respond to the environment. Such responses help in increasing the probability of survival and success.
2. James-Lange Theory
The James-Lange theory is one of the best ever theories explained in the physiological theory of emotion. The James-Lange theory was proposed by William James (psychologist) and Carl Lange (physiologist). This theory recommends that emotions are a result of physiological reactions. To put it in a nutshell, it suggests that an external stimulus could result in a physiological reaction which means your emotional reaction is completely dependent on how you interpret external or physical things.
For example, suppose while walking on the road you saw a deadly accident and your heart begins racing. According to the theory, your heart is racing because your body is frightened.
3. Cannon-Bard Theory
The Cannon-Bard theory is the other best and understandable physiological theory based on emotions. This theory disagrees with the James-Lange theory of several different levels. Walter Cannon, the proposer of this theory suggested that people experience physiological reactions and these reactions are associated with emotions.
For example, your heart starts racing because you were exercising and were not frightened by the accident. Cannon also argued that emotional responses are quick and they are by-products of our current physical state. Whenever we experience any dangerous situation, we often experience physical symptoms like trembling, fear, and shaking.
4. Schachter-Singer Theory
Schachter-Singer’s theory also referred to as two-factor theory, it is an example of cognitive theory. This theory suggested that the occurrence of physiological arousals is first, and then the people identifies the reason behind arousal, and then differentiate the arousals as emotions. To put it in a nutshell, an external stimulus results in a response which is later identified and labeled as an emotion.
This theory is derived on the basis of the Cannon-Bard theory and James-Lange theory. The only important factor in this theory is the situation and the identification that later gets labeled as an emotion.
5. Cognitive Appraisal Theory
The Cognitive Appraisal theory is based on the thought process before experiencing or identifying any emotion. This theory is also sometimes referred to as the Lazarus theory of emotion as Richard Lazarus as Richard was the main forerunner in the development of this theory. This theory suggests that there are sequences of first which leads to stimulus, then thoughts, then the physiological response, and then the response through emotions.
For example, you have seen a deadly accident, you might begin to think about the danger and then it may lead or fear, and then it will lead to the fight or flight response.
6. Facial-Feedback Theory
This theory explains that facial expressions are related to experiencing emotions. William James and Charles Darwin suggested that physiological responses directly lead to emotion instead of being the result of the emotion. It suggests that it could be seen in facial muscles.
For example, people with social anxiety might get a little nervous to attend any social function and it can be directly seen through their facial expressions.
I hope this blog helps you to understand the six major theories of emotion.
Thanks for reading and keep expressing!
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