Responding to the World

Emotion (PSY)

  • Three components of emotion:
    1. Cognitive- this is how you choose to interpret your emotion. For example, if your father is having heart surgery, you may understand this to be a dangerous situation, and dangerous situations make you nervous.
    2. Physiological- this is how your body physically reacts to any given emotion. For example, if you are nervous, you may feel your heart beat faster, have sweaty palms, etc.
    3. Behavioral- this is how you express your emotion. So, if you are nervous, perhaps you will bounce your legs, tap your pencil, pace back and forth, etc.
  • Seven universally recognized emotions:
    1. Happiness/joy
    2. Sadness
    3. Fear
    4. Surprise
    5. Disgust
    6. Anger
    7. Contempt
    • Difference between happiness and joy: Joy is experienced through things such as spiritual connections, witnessing/completing selfless acts, etc. It is a feeling of peace and contentment. Happiness is more temporary than joy, and is based on external circumstances.
  • Adaptive role of emotion
    • The Yerkes-Dodson Law states that people tend to perform at their optimum ability when they are moderately emotionally stimulated. This is to say that when people are extremely emotional, or totally non-emotional, they are less likely to perform at their best.
    • Emotion can also play an important role in survival. This is particularly true with fear.
      • For example, you may be afraid to travel alone. This fear can serve as protection against misfortunes such as getting lost, hurt, having your belongings stolen, etc.
  • Theories of emotion
    • James-Lange theory of emotion states that the behavioral and physiological aspects of emotion are what lead to the cognitive aspect of the emotion.
      • For example, if a stranger breaks into your house, your heart rate might increase, and you may scream. These physiological and behavioral cues are what lead you to understand the situation as scary.
    • Cannon-Bard theory of emotion states that the physiological and cognitive aspects of emotion occur independently and simultaneously. Once these have occurred, the behavioral aspect will be carried out.
      • For example, if a stranger breaks into your house, your heart rate might increase, and you may interpret the situation as scary. This would then lead you to scream.
    • Schachter-Singer theory of emotion states that in emotion, we first experience physiological stimulation, then we cognitively interpret what is happening, which then leads us to the emotion we are experiencing.
      • For example, if a stranger breaks into your house, your heart rate might increase. Then you might cognitively examine the details of the situation, and experience fear and decide you are scared.
  • The role of biological processes in perceiving emotion (PSY, BIO)
    • Brain regions involved in the generation and experience of emotions: The limbic system, including structures such as the amygdala, the hypothalamus, and the hippocampus, is the region of our brains that controls emotion. It is located underneath the cerebrum, on both sides of the thalamus.
    • The role of the limbic system in emotion
      • The amygdala is largely responsible for the emotions we experience.
      • The amygdala communicates directly with the hypothalamus, which controls physiological features of the emotion, such as an increased/decreased heart rate, loss of appetite, and a racing heart.
      • The hypothalamus interacts with the prefrontal cortex. This area of the brain decides how someone will choose to behave because of an emotion they are experiencing.
    • Emotion and the autonomic nervous system
      • 2 divisions of autonomic nervous system:
        1. Sympathetic division- ("fight or flight") prepares the body to react in an emergency or high-stress situation, and regulates the body’s endocrine glands. When the sympathetic nervous system is activated these glands release epinephrine (adrenaline). This causes an increase in pulse and blood flow to muscles.
        2. Parasympathetic division- ("rest and relax") allows our body to store energy that can be used in the future. When the parasympathetic division is activated there is an increase in stomach movements, and a decreased flow of blood to skeletal muscles.
      • The autonomic nervous system works along with the limbic system and the reticular activating system to allow us to experience and understand our emotions. It largely controls the physiological aspect of our emotions.
    • Physiological markers of emotion (signatures of emotion)
      • Depending on the emotion, some physiological markers of emotion include increased pulse, increase of adrenaline, sweating, increased, respiration rate, and changes in blood pressure.
      • An obvious, and universal sign of sadness (or other negative emotions) is crying tears.
      • Depending on the emotion, you may experience a flushed red face from increased blood flow (e.g. anger, embarrassment).

Stress (PSY)

  • The nature of stress:
    • Appraisal- this term refers to the way someone interprets any given event. This interpretation will determine how someone decides to feel, and later act.
    • Different types of stressors (e.g., cataclysmic events, personal)
      • Cataclysmic events- These include stressors caused by catastrophes. They are difficult to predict, and occur on a wide scale. Examples of cataclysmic events include wars and natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, etc.
      • Personal events- These are stressors that involve significant life changes, and are experienced especially in young adulthood. Examples of personal events include starting or ending a relationship (or marriage), moving, losing or getting a job, and the death or birth of a loved one.
      • Daily stressors- These are stressors that are experienced on a regular daily basis throughout one's day. Examples of daily stressors include paying bills, mowing the lawn, getting stuck in a traffic jam.
  • Effects of stress on psychological functions
    • Mild levels of stress can help increase one's psychological functions and serve to increase levels of motivation (e.g. preparing for a job interview)
    • If someone is experiencing a high level of stress their functioning can be impaired by side-effects, including fatigue, anxiety, and inability to concentrate.
  • Stress outcomes/response to stressors
    • Physiological (PSY, BIO)
      1. "Fight or flight" response by the sympathetic nervous system causes the release of norepinephrine and epinephrine (adrenaline). These hormones cause an increase in respiratory rate and pulse, as well as an increase of blood flow to skeletal muscles. It also signals the release of glucose into the bloodstream.
      2. A series of events are initiated by the hypothalamus occurs during stressful situations. It releases hormones that stimulate the pituitary glands, which then communicate with the adrenal glands to release cortisol.
        • Cortisol is a hormone that causes the body to use fat as a source of energy (instead of glucose, as it usually would).
        • Excessive exposure to high levels of cortisol can be detrimental to the immune system, as it prevents the activity of white blood cells.
    • Emotional: High levels of stress can be unhealthy for a person's overall well-being. Excessive exposure to stressors can lead to psychiatric disorders, including PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), anxiety disorders, and depression.
    • Behavioral
      • People behave differently when presented with stressful situations. Some choose to deal with the stressor head-on, while others decide on avoidance of the stressor.
      • In an effort to avoid or numb stressful emotions and situations people may choose to consume drugs or alcohol.
    • Managing stress (e.g., exercise, relaxation, spirituality)
      • Exercise- aerobic exercise is said to be an effective method for relieving symptoms of depression. By exercising, the body releases hormones that are thought to relieve depression, such as serotonin, endorphins, and norepinephrine. Overtime, exercise also lowers blood pressure.
      • Relaxation- a process known as "biofeedback" can be used to release muscle constriction, slow pulse, and control respiration. People also partake in activities such as guided meditation and yoga to help themselves relax.
      • Spirituality- Religious groups are often beneficial with regards to relieving stress. They provide social support and guidance during stressful situations.