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MB0038 Q.1 Explain the theories of emotion.

Answer: The word emotion is a composite formed from two Latin words. e(x)/out, outward + motion/movement, action, gesture. This classical formation refers to the motivational aspect that causes one to begin, continue, or end bodily movements from a source often hidden from conscious inspection though necessary even for rational actions. The scientific community applies the term to any creature's activity that exhibits complex response traits similar to that of a human. Alternatively some consider the outward movement to refer to immediacy of action rather than motivational source.


I) James-Lange Theory (1890) [cited in Taylor, 1999]: Subjective emotional responses are the result of physiological changes within human bodies. The brain perceives an event and, in turn, sends messages down its neural circuitry to other areas of the brain. This action ultimately produces motor, autonomic and endocrine responses. These responses elicit an emotional response, which in turn, is perceived by the brain. Therefore, it is a cyclical process. This theory argues that physiological behaviors precede the emotion.

II) Cannon-Bard theory (1927) [cited in Taylor, 1999]: Emotion-provoking events induce the subjective emotional experiences and physiological arousal simultaneously. Through experiences, individuals begin to acquire certain expectations for every given situation. These expectations provide a filter and every situation is processed through this filter. During this process, brain produces the emotion and corresponding physiological behaviors at the same time.

III) Schachter-Singer theory (1962): Both feedback from peripheral responses and a cognitive appraisal of what caused those responses produce emotions. How one interprets the peripheral response will determine the emotion he / she feels. Individuals label the emotional response depending on what we think is causing the response. For example, when someone interprets a stimulus as dangerous, it leads to physiological arousal. Then, this physiological arousal is interpreted to a particular emotion. It can be fear, surprise, excitement, and astonishment depending on how the arousal is labeled.
IV) Lazarus' appraisal theory (1980): An individual makes an initial and sometimes unconscious cognitive appraisal of the situation to decide, if there is a threat; coping action is taken if necessary; and the individual takes a closer look and identifies the emotions he or she is feeling.

V) Weiner's attribution theory (1986, 1992): Certain attributions produce specific emotions. Once the initial evaluation has been made, the individual looks at what caused the event. These attributions of causality can modify the emotion felt. It is the interaction of the perceived internal and external causes, controllability and outcome that will determine the emotional responses. What are the basic emotions? Ortony and Turner (1990) collated a wide range of research as to what basic emotions are and the basis of including them as basic emotions and proposed a comprehensive description of basic emotions and corresponding reasons for inclusion :

Felt vs. Displayed Emotions (Hochschild, 1979, 1983)
Felt emotions are an individual‟s actual emotions. Displayed emotions are those that are organizationally required and considered appropriate in a given job. They are learned. Felt and displayed emotions may be different. This is particularly true in organizations, where role demands and situations often require people to exhibit emotional behaviors that mask their true feelings.

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