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What are the theories of emotion?

Emotions are a central part of the experience of being human. People's feelings and moods affect their behavior, choices, and perspectives in myriad ways. The physical and psychological mechanisms behind emotions are correspondingly complex, and many different theories of emotion have been proposed to explain them. What are these theories, and are they supported by biology, psychology, physiology, or even common sense?
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James-Lange Theory of Emotion

The James-Lange theory contends that emotions are driven by physiological responses to events.

Emotions are caused by physiological reactions

The physiological response comes first, then the emotion follows. Explore

Cannon-Bard Theory of Emotion

The Cannon-Bard theory argues that physiological and emotional responses occur together.

Physiological reactions are too slow to explain emotions

A cause has to occur before its effect, but physiological responses do not always precede emotions. Explore

The relationship between physiology and emotions is not one-to-one

The same physiological response can be associated with different emotions, or with no emotion at all. Explore

Schachter-Singer Two-Factor Theory

The Schachter-Singer theory offers an explanation of emotions based on two factors, physiological arousal and cognitive interpretation.

Physiological arousal is the starting point for emotion

Physiological responses are only the first step in forming emotions. Explore

Emotions are determined through cognitive processes

After a physiological response occurs, cognition interprets and labels the correct emotion. Explore

Cognitive-Mediational (Lazarus) Theory

In the Lazarus theory, cognitive appraisal must take place before any physiological or emotional reaction can occur.

Cognitive labelling precedes both physiological and emotional responses

Unconscious cognitive assessments happen immediately in response to stimuli, and these evaluations mediate between stimuli and emotions. Explore

Facial Feedback Hypothesis

The facial feedback hypothesis proposes a direct relationship between facial expressions and emotions.

Facial expressions can influence emotions

Not only are facial expressions one of the major indicators of a person's emotional state, they can also directly affect emotions. Explore
This page was last edited on Friday, 21 Feb 2020 at 21:34 UTC