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Evaluating the emotional orientations of the human person

Emotion Emotion is one type of affect, other types being mood, temperament and sensation for example, pain.

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Emotions can be understood as either states or as processes. When understood as a state like being angry or afraidan emotion is a type of mental state that interacts with other mental states and causes certain behaviors. Understood as a process, it is useful to divide emotion into two parts. The early part of the emotion process is the interval between the perception of the stimulus and the triggering of the bodily response. The later part of the emotion process is a bodily response, for example, changes in heart rate, skin conductance, and facial expression.

This description is sufficient to begin an analysis of the emotions, although it does leave out some aspects of the process such as the subjective awareness of the emotion and behavior that is often part of the emotion response for example, fighting, running away, hugging another person. The early part of the process is typically taken to include an evaluation of the stimulus, which means that the occurrence of an evaluating the emotional orientations of the human person depends on how the individual understands or "sees" the stimulus.

For example, one person may respond to being laid-off from a job with anger, while another person responds with joy—it depends on how the individual evaluates this event. Having this evaluative component in the process means that an emotion is not a simple and direct response to a stimulus. In this way, emotions differ from reflexes such as the startle response or the eye-blink response, which are direct responses to certain kinds of stimuli.

The following are some of the features that distinguish emotion from moods. An emotion is a response to a specific stimulus that can be internal, like a belief or a memory. It is also generally agreed that emotions have intentional content, which is to say that they are about something, often the stimulus itself. Moods, on the other hand, are typically not about anything, and at least some of the time do not appear to be caused by a specific stimulus.

Social value orientation modulates the processing of outcome evaluation involving others

Emotions also have a relatively brief duration—on the order of seconds or minutes—whereas moods last much longer. Most theories agree about these features of the emotions. Other features will be discussed in the course of this article. There is much less agreement, however, about most of these other features that the emotions may or may not have.

Theories of Emotion

Evolutionary Theories The evolutionary approach focuses on the historical setting in which emotions developed. Typically, the goal is to explain why emotions are present in humans today by referring to natural selection that occurred some time in the past. It will help to begin by clarifying some terminology. Evolution is simply "change over generational time" Brandon, 1990, p.

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Change to a trait can occur because of natural selection, chance, genetic drift, or because the trait is genetically linked with some other trait.

A trait is an adaptation if it is produced by natural selection. And a trait is the result of natural selection only when "its prevalence is due to the fact that it conferred a greater fitness" Richardson, 1996, p. However, a trait can enhance fitness without being an adaptation. One example, noted by Darwin in The Origin of Species, is the skull sutures in newborns: The sutures in the skulls of young mammals have been advanced as a beautiful adaptation for aiding parturition [that is, live birth], and no doubt they facilitate, or may be indispensable for this act; but as sutures occur in the skulls of young birds and reptiles, which have only to escape from a broken egg, we may infer that this structure has arisen from the laws of growth, and has been taken advantage of in the parturition of the higher animals p.

In this case, the evidence from non-mammals indicates that this trait was not selected because it aids live birth, although it later became useful for this task. In order to know that a trait is an adaptation, we have to be familiar with the circumstances under which the selection occurred Brandon, 1990; Richardson, 1996. However, often the historical evidence is not available to establish that a new trait replaced a previous one because the new trait increased fitness. This is especially true for psychological traits because there is no fossil record to examine.

Hence, establishing that an emotion is an adaptation presents some difficult challenges. Nevertheless, this has not prevented the development of theories that explain emotions as adaptations. The attractiveness of this approach is easy to see. Since all humans have emotions and most non-human animals display emotion-like responses, it is likely that emotions or emotion-like behaviors were present in a common ancestor.

Moreover, emotions appear to serve an important function, which has led many to think that the certain emotions have been selected to deal with particular problems and challenges that organisms regularly encounter. As Dacher Keltner et al. Three different ways in which the evolutionary position has been developed will be discussed in evaluating the emotional orientations of the human person following sections. The first is based on the claim that emotions are the result of natural selection that occurred in early hominids.

The second also claims that emotions are adaptations, but suggests that the selection occurred much earlier. Finally, the third position suggests that emotions are historical, but does not rely on emotions being adaptations. Natural Selection in Early Hominids The theories in the first group claim that the emotions were selected for in early hominids. Some examples of the problems that early hominids may have encountered, and the emotions that may have been selected in response to these problems, are listed in Table 1.

Some possible examples of emotions that were selected for in early hominids. These emotions, it is suggested, have been selected to deal with the types of problems indicated. In Randolph Nesse's words, "The emotions are specialized modes of operation shaped by natural selection to adjust the physiological, psychological, and behavioral parameters of the organism in ways that increase its capacity and tendency to respond adaptively to the threats and opportunities characteristic of specific kinds of situations" 1990, p.

For example, Cosmides and Tooby suggest that sexual jealousy is an adaptation that occurred in "our hunger-gatherer ancestors" 2000, p. As they explain it, sexual jealousy was selected to deal with a group of related problems.

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  • Animal studies suggest a key role in recognizing emotions for circuitry running from the amygdala to the visual cortex; Brothers 1989 , reviewing both neurological findings and comparative studies with primates, cites data showing that certain neurons in the visual cortex respond only to specific emotional cues, such as a threat;
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  • However, Prinz makes a distinction between what this mental state registers and what it represents.

The main one is that a mate is having sex with someone else, but other problems include the harm that has been done to the victim's status and reputation, the possibility that the unfaithful mate has conceived with the rival, and the likelihood that the victim of the infidelity has been deceived about a wide variety of other matters 2000, p. According to Cosmides and Tooby, the emotion of sexual jealousy, deals with these problems in the following ways: Cosmides and Tooby, and others who have similar theories, stress that these emotions are responses that enhanced fitness when the selection occurred—whenever that was in the past.

Although these emotions are still present in humans today, they may no longer be useful, and may even be counterproductive, as Cosmides and Tooby's description of the more violent aspects of sexual jealousy illustrates.

Adaptations Shared by All Animals: Plutchik In contrast to theories that claim that the emotions are the result of natural selection that occurred in early hominids, another position is that the selection occurred much earlier, and so the adaptations are shared by a wider collection of species today.

Robert Plutchik claims that there are eight basic emotions, each one is an adaptation, and all eight are found in all organisms 1980, 1984.

According to Plutchik, the emotions are similar to traits such as DNA or lungs in air breathing animals—traits that are so important that they arose once and have been conserved ever since. In the case of the emotions, which he calls "basic adaptations needed by all organisms in the struggle for individual survival" 1980, p.

The eight adaptations are incorporation, rejection, destruction, protection, reproduction, reintegration, orientation, and exploration see Table 2 for a description of each. This table lists the eight basic emotions in Robert Plutchik theory. On the left are the behaviors that, according to Plutchik, are the result of natural selection, and on the right are the emotions associated with these behaviors. The first emotion listed in each row e.

In Plutchik's theory, these adaptations are, in one sense, types of animal behaviors. The term "emotion" is just a particular way of describing these behaviors in humans. However, he does acknowledge that the same behaviors are not evaluating the emotional orientations of the human person in all species.

The emotions that appear in humans are more complex than what are found in lower species, "but the basic functional patterns remain invariant in all animals, up to and including humans" 1980, p.

Plutchik's theory also accounts for more than just these eight emotions. Other emotions, he says, are either combinations of two or three of these basic emotions, or one of these eight emotions experienced at a greater or a milder intensity. Historical, but Not Adaptationist: Griffiths Although the trend when explaining emotions from a historical point of view is to focus on adaptations, an alternative is simply to identify the traits that are present in a certain range of species because of their shared ancestry.

According to Paul Griffiths, some emotions should be identified and then classified in this way 1997, 2004. This classification creates a psychological category, which Griffiths terms the affect program emotions: In Griffiths' theory, the other emotions belong to different categories—the higher-cognitive emotions and the socially constructed emotions—and in some cases a single vernacular term, for example, anger, will have instances that belong to different categories.

Affect programs are explained further in section 4. Griffiths' idea is that these emotions are basically the same as other traits that are studied and classified by evolutionary biology.

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An affect program emotion is, "no different from a trait like the human arm, which has unique features but can be homologized more or less broadly with everything from a chimpanzee arm to a cetacean fin" 1997, p. For example, sadness, one of Griffiths' affect program emotions, occurs in all humans and in other related species. This trait may differ slightly from species to species, but it is a single trait because all of the occurrences can be traced back to a common ancestor.

Griffiths suggests that this method of classification will identify the emotions that are carried out by similar mechanisms in different species. For example, "threat displays in chimps look very different from anger in humans, but when their superficial appearance is analyzed to reveal the specific muscles whose movement produces the expression and the order in which those muscles move, it becomes clear that they are homologues of one another.

The same is almost certainly true of the neural mechanisms that control those movements" Griffiths, 2004, p. Rather than simply focusing on the functions of the emotions, this kind of analysis is more useful for psychology and neuropsychology because these sciences are interested in identifying the mechanisms that drive behavior Griffiths, 2004. Social and Cultural Theories The second main approach to explaining the emotions begins with the idea that emotions are social constructions.

That is, emotions are the products of societies and cultures, and are acquired or learned by individuals through experience. Virtually everyone who defends this position acknowledges that emotions are to some degree, natural phenomena. Nonetheless, the central claim made in these theories is that the social influence is so significant that emotions are best understood from this perspective. Motivations for the Social Approach This section will discuss some of the motivations for adopting this approach to explaining the emotions.

Some brief examples to show how these ideas have been developed are also reviewed. A number of anthropological studies have found discrepancies among the emotion evaluating the emotional orientations of the human person used in different languages. In particular, there are emotion words in other languages that do not correspond directly or even closely to emotion words in English. Given that individuals experience the emotions that they have terms for and vice versathe claim that follows from these findings is that people in different cultures have and experience different emotions.

The following are some of the examples that are often used to illustrate the variability of emotion terms. The people of Ifaluk, a small island in the Pacific, have an emotion that they refer to as fago.

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The Japanese have the emotion amae, which is a feeling of dependency upon another's love. This is similar to the feeling that children have towards their mothers, but it is experienced by adults. And there are several cultures in which anger and sadness are not distinguished as separate, discrete emotions Orley, 1970 [quoted in Russell, 1991]; Davitz, 1969; M.

See Russell [1991] for a comprehensive review of this literature. Emotions typically occur in social settings and during interpersonal transactions—many, if not most, emotions are caused by other people and social relationships.