Verbal report



Figure 3.11 An "emotion prototype" (based on Lang, 1983).

example, in the case of phobic anxiety Lang argued that three types of propositional networks were closely coordinated to form an "emotion prototype" or "emotion schema" (see Figure 3.11). These three networks consist of a stimulus network, a meaning network, and a response network. The stimulus network is directly linked in to the perceptual input and produces a representation of the input irrespective of its modality. In the case of certain "prepared" or "prepotent" stimuli, Lang (1983) suggested that there may be hardwired sensori-motor programmes that provide a direct link from the stimulus network to the response network. Presumably, when our ancestors roamed the plains of Africa, those who were not afraid of snakes picked them up, got bitten and died, leaving behind those who were afraid and whose snake-fearing genes therefore filled the genetic pool. The meaning network can allow our knowledge and experience of the world to play a part in the overall response topology and, therefore, can act to amplify or to inhibit some or all of the three response systems.

Although Lang's network theory falls prey to many of the criticisms that we have already outlined in our commentary on Bower, one of the advantages of the approach is the suggestion that there may be a higher level of organisation of the information. Unfortunately, Lang uses the term "prototype" to name this higher level, which confuses it with the standard use of the term in cognitive psychology; as we saw earlier, one of the criticisms of Quillian's (1968) hierarchical network was that it could not account for some of the effects of prototypicality, a problem that Collins and Loftus (1975) overcame in their associative network, although without recourse to any higher-level units of organisation. Nevertheless, it is useful to retain the spirit of Lang's suggestion that emotions may become organised in what would more generally be termed a modular fashion (Fodor, 1983); this potential for modular organisation seems to be one of the innate capacities of the human brain, although the form that it takes depends on the many vagaries of development and experience. We return to Lang's ideas in Chapter 6 on fear.

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Belief Change 101

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