What are the constituent parts of an emotion

The first distinction that emerges out of the discussion so far in this chapter is that between emotion as a concept and emotion as a paradigm case. By emotion as a concept we mean those elements that are both necessary and sufficient for something to be called an emotion. By emotion as a paradigm case we mean the conceptual core fear cognitive object event -interpretation -► appraisal charging bear bear will eat me threat

PAIN BODILY OBJECT

BODILY STIMULUS bear gashes leg gash activates pain receptors pain

PSYCHOGENIC PAIN BODILY OBJECT

BODILY STIMULUS Reminder of a war pain In phantom limb pain

Figure 2.5 A schematic diagram illustrating the proposed distinction between sensations such as pain and emotions such as fear.

plus all of the other aspects of emotion that are neither necessary nor sufficient; for example, shouting and table-thumping behaviour when one is angry.

We saw at the beginning of the chapter that Aristotle proposed that the concept of emotion requires some form of appraisal and some form of physiological change. In addition, he emphasised that emotions must have what he called form and that this was really a propensity for behaviour. The work over the past 2000 years that we have reviewed provides little reason to disagree with the essence of what Aristotle is putting forward. Some fine tuning is useful, however, and we have tried to show, in accordance with William Lyons, that a distinction between what we have called an interpretation and what we label an appraisal is helpful; especially when it comes to distinguishing emotions from non-emotions (Q.1). Up to this point we have spent very little time elaborating on Aristotle's notion of form or functionality. Nevertheless, we regard this notion as fundamental to emotions to the extent that we would argue the potential for action is a conceptually necessary component of emotional experience. We discuss our reasons for this proposal as part of the reply to Question 5 below. We are left, therefore, with a concept of emotion which could include: an event; an interpretation; an appraisal; physiological change; an action potential; and (possibly) conscious awareness. In philosophy this proposal of necessary and sufficient components of emotions is known as an essentialist account. Moving from emotion as a concept to emotion as a paradigm case we can also embrace the notion of overt behaviour.

Within these conceptual and paradigmatic frameworks we have argued for a distinction between a strong cognitive theory of emotions and a weak cognitive theory of emotions. The strong version involves a causal link between appraisal and physiological change and between appraisal and action potential (and thus behaviour, see the reply to Q.5 below), whereas a weak cognitive theory identifies the same constituent elements but makes no claim about their causal relationships. We have suggested that it is the strong cognitive theory that provides the most useful analysis of emotions.

To summarise, the concept of emotions includes an instigating event, an interpretation, and a subsequent appraisal of that interpretation which is causal of physiological change and a state of potential for action, and the experience of emotion is the conscious experience of these components. In addition, in the full-blown paradigm case there is an accompanying repertoire of emotional behaviour.

Was this article helpful?

0 0
Emergency Panic Remedies

Emergency Panic Remedies

Eliminate Your Panic And Anxiety Attacks Instantly With These Proven Techniques! There’s
 very
 little
 in
 this 
world
 that 
is
 as 
frightening
 and
 uncomfortable
 as 
a panic
 attack. 

Once
 they
 start,
 panic
 attacks
 can
 send
 you
 spiraling
 out
 of control.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment