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Physiological bases of behavior: emotions. Emotion. Emotion is a reaction, both psychological and physical, subjectively experienced as strong feelings, many of which prepare the body for immediate action.

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  • Emotion is a reaction, both psychological and physical, subjectivelyexperienced as strong feelings, many ofwhich prepare the body for immediate action.
  • In contrast to moods, which are generally longerlasting,emotions are transitory, with relatively well-definedbeginnings and endings. They also have valence,meaning that they are either positive or negative.
  • Subjectively,emotions are experienced as passive phenomena.
nervous structures and emotional reactions
Nervous structures and emotional reactions
  • Areas of the brain that play an important role in theproduction of emotions include the reticular formation,the limbic system, and the cerebral cortex.
the reticular formation
The reticularformation
  • The reticularformation, within the brain stem, receives and filters sensoryinformation before passing it on the limbic systemand cortex.
the limbic system
The limbic system
  • The limbic system includes the hypothalamus,which produces most of the peripheral responses to emotionthrough its control of the endocrine and autonomicnervous systems; the amygdala, the hippocampus; and partsof the thalamus.
  • The frontal lobes of the cerebral cortexreceive nerve impulses from the thalamus and play an activerole in the experience and expression of emotions.
the brain and emotional learning
The brain and emotional learning
  • The amygdala, a structure of the limbic system (thebehavioral center of the brain) located near the brainstem,is thought to be responsible for emotional learningand emotional memory.
  • Studies have shown that damageto the amygdala can impair the ability to judge fearand other emotions in facial expressions (to “read” theemotions of others), a skill which is critical to effectivesocial interaction. The amygdala serves as an emotionalscrapbook that the brain refers to in interpreting and reactingto new experiences. It is also associated with emotionalarousal.
t he prefrontal cortex
The prefrontal cortex
  • The ability to understand the thoughts and feelingsof others is also regulated by the prefrontal cortex of thebrain, sometimes called “the executive center.” Thisbrain structure and its components store emotional memoriesthat an individual draws on when interacting socially.
  • Research studies have demonstrated that individualswith brain lesions in the prefrontal cortex area have difficultiesin social interactions and problem-solving andtend to make poor choices, probably because they havelost the ability to access past experiences and emotions.
t he physiological changes associated with emotions
The physiological changes associated withemotions
  • While the physiological changes associated withemotions are triggered by the brain, they are carried outby the endocrine and autonomic nervous systems.
  • In responseto fear or anger, for example, the brain signals thepituitary gland to release a hormone called ACTH, whichin turn causes the adrenal glands to secrete cortisol, anotherhormone that triggers what is known as the fight-or-flight response, a combination of physical changesthat prepare the body for action in dangerous situations.
the autonomic response to emotional excitation
The autonomic response to emotional excitation
  • The heart beats faster, respiration is more rapid, the liverreleases glucose into the bloodstream to supply addedenergy, fuels are mobilized from the body’s stored fat,and the body generally goes into a state of high arousal.The pupils dilate, perspiration increases while secretionof saliva and mucous decreases, hairs on the body becomeerect, causing “goose pimples,” and the digestivesystem slows down as blood is diverted to the brain andskeletal muscles.
  • These changes are carried out with theaid of the sympathetic nervous system, one of two divisionsof the autonomic nervous system. When the crisisis over, the parasympathetic nervous system, which conservesthe body’s energy and resources, returns things totheir normal state.
ways of expressing emotion s
Ways of expressing emotions
  • Ways of expressing emotion may be either innate orculturally acquired. Certain facial expressions, such assmiling, have been found to be universal, even amongblind persons, who have no means of imitating them.Other expressions vary across cultures.
  • In addition to theways of communicating various emotions, people withina culture also learn certain unwritten codes governingemotional expression itself—what emotions can beopenly expressed and under what circumstances. Culturalforces also influence how people describe and categorizewhat they are feeling.
  • An emotion that is commonlyrecognized in one society may be subsumed under anotheremotion in a different one. Some cultures, for example,do not distinguish between anger and sadness.Tahitians, who have no word for either sadness or guilt,have 46 words for various types of anger.
importance of emotions for bechavior
Importance of emotions for bechavior
  • In daily life, emotional arousal may have beneficialor disruptive effects, depending on the situation and theintensity of the emotion. Moderate levels of arousal increaseefficiency levels by making people more alert.
  • However, intense emotions—either positive or egative—interfere with performance because central nervoussystem responses are channeled in too many directionsat once. The effects of arousal on performance alsodepend on the difficulty of the task at hand; emotions interfereless with simple tasks than with more complicatedones.
emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence
  • Emotional intelligenceis the ability to perceive and constructively act onboth one’s own emotions and the feelings of others.
  • Emotional intelligence (EI) is sometimes referredto as emotional quotient or emotional literacy. Individualswith emotional intelligence are able to relate to otherswith compassion and empathy, have well-developedsocial skills, and use this emotional awareness to directtheir actions and behavior.
a pplications
  • The concept of emotional intelligence has found anumber of different applications outside of the psychologicalresearch and therapy arenas.
  • Professional, educational,and community institutions have integrated differentaspects of the emotional intelligence philosophy intotheir organizations to promote more productive workingrelationships, better outcomes, and enhanced personalsatisfaction.
  • In the workplace and in other organizational settings,the concept of emotional intelligence has spawned an entireindustry of EI consultants, testing materials, andworkshops.
the four areas of emotional intelligence as identified by mayer and salovey are as follows
The four areas of emotional intelligence, as identifiedby Mayer and Salovey, are as follows:

• Identifying emotions. The ability to recognize one’sown feelings and the feelings of those around them.

• Using emotions. The ability to access an emotion andreason with it (use it to assist thought and decisions).

• Understanding emotions. Emotional knowledge; theability to identify and comprehend what Mayer and Saloveyterm “emotional chains”—the transition of oneemotion to another.

• Managing emotions. The ability to self-regulate emotionsand manage them in others.

t ests or assessments
Tests or assessments
  • A number of tests or assessments have been developedto “measure” emotional intelligence, although theirvalidity is questioned by some researchers.
  • These includethe Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional IntelligenceTest (MSCEIT), the Multifactor Emotional IntelligenceScale (MEIS), the Emotional Competence Inventory 360(ECI 360), the Work Profile Questionnaire-emotional intelligenceversion (WPQ-ei), and the Baron EmotionalQuotient Inventory (EQ-i). Other psychometric measures,or tests, such as the Wechsler Intelligence Scalefor Children, Revised (WISC-R), a standard intelligencetest, are sometimes useful in measuring the social aptitudefeatures of emotional intelligence.
emotional development
Emotional development
  • Emotional development is the process by which infants and children begindeveloping the capacity to experience, express,and interpret emotions.
  • To formulate theories about the development ofhuman emotions, researchers focus on observable displayof emotion, such as facial expressions and public behavior.
emotional development1
Emotional development
  • Between six and ten weeks, a social smile emerges,usually accompanied by other pleasure-indicative actionsand sounds, including cooing and mouthing.
  • During the last half of the first year, infants beginexpressing fear, disgust, and anger because of the maturationof cognitive abilities.
  • Caregivers supply infants with asecure base from which to explore their world.
  • During the second year, infants express emotions ofshame or embarrassment and pride. During this stage of development, toddlers acquirelanguage and are learning to verbally express their feelings. This ability,is the firststep in the development of emotional self-regulation skills.
toddlerhood 1 2 years emotional expressivity
Toddlerhood (1-2 years)Emotional expressivity
  • In toddlerhood,children begin to develop skills to regulatetheir emotions with the emergence of language providingan important tool to assist in this process.
  • Empathy, a complex emotional response to a situation,also appears in toddlerhood, usually by age two.
  • The development of empathy requires that children readothers’ emotional cues, understand that other people areentities distinct from themselves, and take the respectiveof another person (put themselves in the position ofanother).
preschool 3 6 years emotional expressivity
Preschool (3-6 years)Emotional expressivity
  • Parents help preschoolers acquire skills to cope with negativeemotional states by teaching and modeling use of verbalreasoning and explanation.
  • Beginning at about age four, children acquire theability to alter their emotional expressions. For example, in Western culture,we teach children that they should smile and say thankyouwhen receiving a gift, even if they really do not likethe present.
  • It is thought that in the preschool years, parents are theprimary socializing force, teaching appropriate emotionalexpression in children.
middle childhood 7 11 years
Middle childhood (7-11 years)
  • Children ages seven to eleven display a wider varietyof self-regulation skills. Sophistication in understandingand enacting cultural display rules has increased dramaticallyby this stage, such that by now children begin toknow when to control emotional expressivity as well ashave a sufficient repertoire of behavioral regulation skillsallowing them to effectively mask emotions in socially appropriateways.
  • During middle childhood, children begin to understandthat the emotional states of others are not as simpleas they imagined in earlier years, and that they are often theresult of complex causes, some of which are not externallyobvious.
adolescence 12 18 years
Adolescence (12-18 years)
  • Adolescents have become sophisticated at regulatingtheir emotions. They have developed a wide vocabularywith which to discuss, and thus influence, emotionalstates of themselves and others.
  • Research in this area has found that inearly adolescence, children begin breaking the emotionallyintimate ties with their parents and begin formingthem with peers. Another factor that plays a significant role in theways adolescents regulate emotional displays is theirheightened sensitivity to others’ evaluations of them, asensitivity which can result in acute self-awareness andself-consciousness as they try to blend into the dominantsocial structure.
coping with stress cbs news online
Coping With Stress CBS News Online
  • Coping With Stress CBS News Online
  • How Your Brain Handles Stress
  • Stress is the physiological and psychological responses tosituations or events that disturb the equilibrium ofan organism.
  • Stressresults when demands placed on an organism cause unusualphysical, psychological, or emotional responses. Inhumans, stress originates from a multitude of sourcesand causes a wide variety of responses, both positive andnegative.
  • Despite its negative connotation, many expertsbelieve some level of stress is essential for well-beingand mental health.
  • Stressors—events or situations that cause stress—can range from everyday hassles such as traffic jams tochronic sources such as the threat of nuclear war or overpopulation.
  • Much research has studied how people respondto the stresses of major life changes. The LifeEvents Scale lists these events as the top ten stressors:death of spouse, divorce, marital separation, jail term,death of close family member, personal injury or illness,marriage, loss of job through firing, marital reconciliation,and retirement.
  • It is obvious from this list that evengood things—marriage, retirement, and marital reconciliation—can cause substantial stress.
top ten stressful events
  • Death of spouse
  • Divorce
  • Marital separation
  • Jail term or death of close family member
  • Personal injury or illness
  • Marriage
  • Loss of job due to termination
  • Marital reconciliation or retirement
  • Pregnancy
  • Change in financial state
reactions to stress
Reactions to stress
  • Reactions to stressvary by individual and theperceived threat presented by it.
  • Psychological responsesmay include cognitive impairment—as in test anxiety,feelings of anxiety, anger, apathy, depression, and aggression.
  • Behavioral responses may include a change ineating or drinking habits.
  • The “fight or flight” response involves acomplex pattern of innate responses that occur in reactionto emergency situations. The body prepares to handlethe emergency by releasing extra sugar for quick energy;heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing increase;muscles tense; infection-preventing systems activate;and hormones are secreted to assist in garnering energy.The hypothalamus, often called the stress center of thebrain, controls these emergency responses to perceivedlife-threatening situations.
stress and pathology
Stress and pathology
  • A relatively new areaof behavioral medicine, psychoimmunology, has beendeveloped to study how the body’s immune system is affectedby psychological causes like stress.
  • While it iswidely recognized that heart disease and ulcers may resultfrom excess stress, psychoimmunologists believemany other types of illness also result from impaired immunecapabilities due to stress. Cancer, allergies, andarthritis all may result from the body’s weakened abilityto defend itself because of stress.
coping with stress
Coping with stress
  • Coping with stress is a subject of great interest andis the subject of many popular books and media coverage.
  • One method focuses on eliminating or mitigatingthe effects of the stressor itself. For example, people whoexperience extreme stress when they encounter dailytraffic jams along their route to work may decide tochange their route to avoid the traffic, or change theirschedule to less busy hours.
  • Instead of trying to modifytheir response to the stressor, they attempt to alleviate theproblem itself. Generally, this problem-focused strategyis considered the most effective way to battle stress.
e motion focused methods
Emotion-focused methods
  • Anothermethod, dealing with the effects of the stressor, isused most often in cases in which the stress is seriousand difficult to change. Major illnesses, deaths, and catastropheslike hurricanes or airplane crashes cannot bechanged, so people use emotion-focused methods intheir attempts to cope. Examples of emotion-focusedcoping include exercise, drinking, and seeking supportfrom emotional confidants.
  • Defense mechanisms areunconscious coping methods that help to bury, but notcure, the stress. Sigmund Freud considered repression—pushing the source of stress to the unconscious—one way of coping with stress. Rationalization and denialare other common emotional responses to stress.