The unfolding and function of emotions
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The Unfolding and Function of Emotions. Chapter 14. I. Emotion Stimulus and Appraisal. A. Event-Appraisal-Emotion Sequence A person appraises the emotion stimulus pre- and post-aware and responds affectively, physiologically, expressively, and behaviorally.

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I. Emotion Stimulus and Appraisal

  • A. Event-Appraisal-Emotion Sequence

    • A person appraises the emotion stimulus pre- and post-aware and responds affectively, physiologically, expressively, and behaviorally.

  • B. Characteristics of the Emotion Situation

    • 1. Situational Definitions of Emotions

      • Situational definition: stimulus and its context determine the emotion.

    • 2. Emotion-Eliciting Situations

      • Positive stimuli evoke positive emotions; their loss evokes negative emotions. Negative stimuli evoke negative emotions; their loss evokes relief. People evoke emotions in others.


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    I. Emotion Stimulus and Appraisal

    • C. Processing of Emotion Stimuli

      • 1. Separation of Emotion and Cognition

        • Emotions can occur automatically or result from appraisal that is primitive and below the level of awareness.

      • 2. Appraisal Without Awareness

        • Stimuli presented below the level of awareness can elevate mood.

      • 3. Priority of Negative Stimulus Appraisal

        • Below awareness, negative elements are appraised a little earlier than positive elements. Avoidance behavior is associated with negative stimuli and approach behavior with positive stimuli.

      • 4. Appraisal Dimensions

        • Various dimensions are used for stimulus appraisal, e.g., expectedness, unpleasantness, goal hindrance, unfairness, external causation.


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    I. Emotion Stimulus and Appraisal

    • D. Emotion Areas in the Brain

      • 1. Limbic System, Amygdala, and Emotion

        • Limbic system is responsible for emotions. Amygdala is part of limbic system that evaluates the valence of emotion stimuli.

      • 2. Role of Amygdala in Stimulus Appraisal

        • Amygdala crudely processes fear-relevant stimuli prior to awareness and alerts the cortex, which does more extensive stimulus appraisal.

      • 3. Feelings of Affect

        • Neural circuits for subjective emotional experiences are laid down in the limbic system.


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    II. Emotion and the Face

    • A. Facial Muscles and Expression and the Brain

      • 1. Involuntary and Voluntary Facial Expressions

        • Facial expressions can be spontaneous (involuntary) or voluntary.

      • 2. Facial Muscles

        • Smooth facial muscles contract to form expressions that are associated with emotions.

      • 3. Origins in the Brain

        • Spontaneous expressions originate from the older extrapyramidal system of the brain while voluntary expressions originate from the cortical motor strip.


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    II. Emotion and the Face

    • B. Expression-Feeling Link

      • This link joins facial expressions with emotional feelings (affect).

    • 1. Emotion Stimulus, Affective Experience, and Facial Expression

      • Affective experiences and expressions occur jointly in reaction to the emotion-inducing event.

    • 2. Affect and Facial Expression

      • Efference hypothesis: the activated brain circuit sends information to facial muscles, which generate the expression that is synonymous with the emotion.


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    II. Emotion and the Face

    • C. Facial Feedback Hypothesis

      • It maintains that the pattern of facial muscles feed back into the brain, provides it with information for the subjective feel of emotion.

    • 1. Regulating Ongoing Expressions

      • Voluntary changes of spontaneous facial expressions alter the subjective feel of affect according to the facial feedback hypothesis.

    • 2. Criticism of the Facial Feedback Hypothesis

      • Affect occurs even when facial muscles are paralyzed. The stimulus, not facial muscles may ultimately be responsible for affect.


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    II. Emotion and the Face

    • D. Innateness of Facial Expressions of Emotion

      • 1. Facial Expression Early in Life

        • Infants’ expressions are true to their subjective emotions.

      • 2. Facial Expression in Deaf and Blind Children

        • Deaf-and-blind children exhibit facial expressions of emotions although the expressions lack minute gradations.

      • 3. Learning and Fine-tuning of Expression

        • The expressions of blind children are less refined because they lack practice and do not benefit from feedback.


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    II. Emotion and the Face

    • D. Innateness of Facial Expressions of Emotion

      • 4. Universality of Facial Expression of Emotion

        • Emotion recognition studies show that expressions of emotions are recognized similar the world over. Members identify expressions more accurately for their own cultural group than a different group.

      • 5. Nonverbal Accents

        • Even though facial expressions of emotion are universal, culture may have a subtle influence on the precise portrayal of an expression.


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    III. Functions of Emotion

    • A. Emotions as Signals to the Self

      • 1. Emotion and Cognitive Activity

        • Cognitive signaler: an emotional feeling influences a person’s future cognitive appraisal.

        • Appraisal tendency hypothesis: each emotion has a unique influence on people’s judgments.

      • 2. Emotions and Behavior

        • Motivator of action: the goal of each emotion is to induce an action that deals specifically with the emotional event. The person is in a state of action readiness.

      • 3. Positive and Negative Affect as Motivators

        • Evaluative space model: stimuli are evaluated for their positive and negative features, which result in positive and negative affect. The overall combined affect motivates a person’s actions.


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    III. Functions of Emotion

    • B. Function of Facial Expression

      • 1. Two Hypotheses on the Function of Facial Expression

        • Readout hypothesis: a facial expression conveys an individual’s emotional feelings to another individual. Behavioral ecology hypothesis: facial expressions are in service to one’s social motives and need not be linked to emotional feelings.

      • 2. Implications of the Readout and Behavioral Ecology Hypotheses

        • An experiment that supported the behavioral ecology hypothesis showed that facial expressions in isolation are in reaction to an imaginary person. Expressions varied even when affect did not, which runs counter to the readout hypothesis.

      • 3. Display Rules for Facial Expressions

        • Display rules: learned social rules specify what voluntary facial expressions are to be exhibited in a specific situation.