Cognition and emotion essay


Social Affect: Feelings about Ourselves and Others

This power that music can have in influencing our decisions may speak in part for the contextual nature of cognition. And the big role that music can have as part of your everyday life. So what underlies all the effects that music has on our emotions, thoughts, and even decision-making? How is it possible that something that is basically organized sound can bring us to tears, move us, and convey deep emotional messages within its very structure? Scientific investigation of the mechanisms behind music-evoked emotions is a rich field of enquiry within the psychology and neuroscience of music. In recent decades, a number of attempts 7,8 at describing these mechanisms and principles have been made.

Many theories on mechanisms that stir up emotions described by scientists are familiar to us all, but some are perhaps more surprising. For instance, the role of memories in music-evoked emotion is quite a familiar to most people: many people have break-up songs - pieces they listened to during that emotional time and that can instantly bring on the emotional state experienced during the break-up even at a later time.

But did you know that researchers also speculate that music may convey emotional information by activating the mirror neuron system? When two people interact, numerous mechanisms are at play that create a connection between the individuals. This mimicking and contagion of emotions may rely in part on the putative human mirror neuron system: neurons that are active when you produce a certain movement but also when someone else does the same - neurons to which you and other people are the same person.

A rich amount of emotional information is conveyed through movement, including prosody, posture and facial expressions. Where does the music come in, then? It is suspected that mirroring and resulting emotional contagion does not only happen between people but also during music listening. It sounds quite incredible, but it is possible that emotional expression in music could also be mirrored by the brain and then give rise to the corresponding emotional state in the listener. For instance, music could be perceived as sad because of the commonalities it has with the prosody of sad speech low pitch, low volume, slow, dark timbre [9].

Humans are one of the extremely few species that can synchronize their body movement to music even babies do it - take a look at this popular video clip of 1 1-month-old infants trying to sync to the beat! Brain imaging studies have shown that the motor areas of the brain are active even during passive listening to musical rhythms without any movement It has been said that music prepares people for movement.

But how is this special property of music connected to the experience of emotions?


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It has been proposed 12 that the aforementioned human mirror neuron system could in fact also encode the movements conveyed by melodies. This would mean that the system might process movement in music like physical movement. In other words, an upward going melody would be processed in the brain as upward movement. And as upward movement is typically related to experiences like jumping for joy, this mirroring in the brain however, without overt movement would contribute to the recognition and experience of the emotion conveyed by the music.

It also seems that acoustic features of music as well as characteristics of physical movement may be universally interpreted to represent specific emotions.

Cognition, Emotion and Development

An intriguing study 13 compared how subjects from the US and from an isolated tribe in Cambodia that had never been exposed to Western music, experienced the emotion expressed by acoustic properties of melodies and the movement characteristics of an animated ball.

Subjects were asked to manipulate the melodies and the movement of the animated ball for their tempo or rate of bouncing, direction of movement and so on to best match a specific basic emotion like fear, happiness, sadness and anger. In summary, movement, be it in musical or physical form, is one important way of conveying emotions. Thus, people who say that they are moved by music are more right than they realize!

Very few people consider themselves experts in music or knowledgeable about all the intricacies of music theory. Irrespective of this, all people have the basic neural mechanisms needed to automatically perceive and analyze the structure and rules of music. Irrespective of the level of music training, the brain can perform complex analytical operations on musical information 14 ; and even without explicit music training, people very quickly learn the regularities typical for the music that they are exposed to: the keys, the ways that certain chords follow each other, and how melodies typically start and end Therefore, through mere exposure, people learn to predict and anticipate the movements of the music.

Pleasure from music may partly stem from expectations that are based on musical regularities and the way these expectations are fulfilled or violated as the composition unfolds in time as well as the tension experienced while waiting for this resolution. All in all, music-evoked emotions are a complex phenomenon that tap into many of the same mechanisms as other emotion-evoking phenomena. Obviously, there is in most cases a clear distinction between the two.

Theories of Emotion - Processing the Environment - MCAT - Khan Academy

Otherwise, listening to sad music might make a person always utterly despondent. Why is it then that sad music, and the sad feelings that it evokes, are still a pleasurable experience for the listener? In communication studies , scholars study the role that emotion plays in the dissemination of ideas and messages. Emotion is also studied in non-human animals in ethology , a branch of zoology which focuses on the scientific study of animal behavior.

Ethology is a combination of laboratory and field science, with strong ties to ecology and evolution. Ethologists often study one type of behavior for example, aggression in a number of unrelated animals. The history of emotions has become an increasingly popular topic recently, with some scholars [ who? Historians, like other social scientists, assume that emotions, feelings and their expressions are regulated in different ways by both different cultures and different historical times, and the constructivist school of history claims even that some sentiments and meta-emotions , for example Schadenfreude , are learnt and not only regulated by culture.

Historians of emotion trace and analyse the changing norms and rules of feeling, while examining emotional regimes, codes, and lexicons from social, cultural, or political history perspectives. Others focus on the history of medicine , science , or psychology. What somebody can and may feel and show in a given situation, towards certain people or things, depends on social norms and rules; thus historically variable and open to change. Furthermore, research in historical trauma suggests that some traumatic emotions can be passed on from parents to offspring to second and even third generation, presented as examples of transgenerational trauma.

A common way in which emotions are conceptualized in sociology is in terms of the multidimensional characteristics including cultural or emotional labels for example, anger, pride, fear, happiness , physiological changes for example, increased perspiration, changes in pulse rate , expressive facial and body movements for example, smiling, frowning, baring teeth , and appraisals of situational cues.

When people enter a situation or encounter with certain expectations for how the encounter should unfold, they will experience different emotions depending on the extent to which expectations for Self, other and situation are met or not met. People can also provide positive or negative sanctions directed at Self or other which also trigger different emotional experiences in individuals.

Turner analyzed a wide range of emotion theories across different fields of research including sociology, psychology, evolutionary science, and neuroscience. Based on this analysis, he identified four emotions that all researchers consider being founded on human neurology including assertive-anger, aversion-fear, satisfaction-happiness, and disappointment-sadness.


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  • These four categories are called primary emotions and there is some agreement amongst researchers that these primary emotions become combined to produce more elaborate and complex emotional experiences. These more elaborate emotions are called first-order elaborations in Turner's theory and they include sentiments such as pride, triumph, and awe.

    Cognition and emotion from the ret viewpoint

    Emotions can also be experienced at different levels of intensity so that feelings of concern are a low-intensity variation of the primary emotion aversion-fear whereas depression is a higher intensity variant. Attempts are frequently made to regulate emotion according to the conventions of the society and the situation based on many sometimes conflicting demands and expectations which originate from various entities.

    The expression of anger is in many cultures discouraged in girls and women to a greater extent than in boys and men the notion being that an angry man has a valid complaint that needs to be rectified, while an angry women is hysterical or oversensitive, and her anger is somehow invalid , while the expression of sadness or fear is discouraged in boys and men relative to girls and women attitudes implicit in phrases like "man up" or "don't be a sissy".

    Some cultures encourage or discourage happiness, sadness, or jealousy, and the free expression of the emotion of disgust is considered socially unacceptable in most cultures. Some social institutions are seen as based on certain emotion, such as love in the case of contemporary institution of marriage. In advertising, such as health campaigns and political messages, emotional appeals are commonly found. Recent examples include no-smoking health campaigns and political campaigns emphasizing the fear of terrorism.

    Sociological attention to emotion has varied over time. He explained how the heightened state of emotional energy achieved during totemic rituals transported individuals above themselves giving them the sense that they were in the presence of a higher power, a force, that was embedded in the sacred objects that were worshipped. These feelings of exaltation, he argued, ultimately lead people to believe that there were forces that governed sacred objects.


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    • In the s, sociologists focused on different aspects of specific emotions and how these emotions were socially relevant. For Cooley , [] pride and shame were the most important emotions that drive people to take various social actions. During every encounter, he proposed that we monitor ourselves through the "looking glass" that the gestures and reactions of others provide.

      Depending on these reactions, we either experience pride or shame and this results in particular paths of action. Retzinger [] conducted studies of married couples who experienced cycles of rage and shame.

      Introduction to Human Behavior

      Drawing predominantly on Goffman and Cooley's work, Scheff [] developed a micro sociological theory of the social bond. The formation or disruption of social bonds is dependent on the emotions that people experience during interactions. Based on interaction ritual theory, we experience different levels or intensities of emotional energy during face-to-face interactions. Emotional energy is considered to be a feeling of confidence to take action and a boldness that one experiences when they are charged up from the collective effervescence generated during group gatherings that reach high levels of intensity.

      These studies show that learning subjects like science can be understood in terms of classroom interaction rituals that generate emotional energy and collective states of emotional arousal like emotional climate. Apart from interaction ritual traditions of the sociology of emotion, other approaches have been classed into one of 6 other categories including: []. This list provides a general overview of different traditions in the sociology of emotion that sometimes conceptualise emotion in different ways and at other times in complementary ways.

      Many of these different approaches were synthesized by Turner in his sociological theory of human emotions in an attempt to produce one comprehensive sociological account that draws on developments from many of the above traditions.

      My Psychology: Emotion and Cognition: A General Exploration (Not really an essay, just a ramble)

      Emotion regulation refers to the cognitive and behavioral strategies people use to influence their own emotional experience. Cognitively oriented schools approach them via their cognitive components, such as rational emotive behavior therapy. Yet others approach emotions via symbolic movement and facial expression components like in contemporary Gestalt therapy. Research on emotions reveals the strong presence of cross-cultural differences in emotional reactions and that emotional reactions are likely to be culture-specific.

      This implies the need to comprehend the current emotional state, mental disposition or other behavioral motivation of a target audience located in a different culture, basically founded on its national political, social, economic, and psychological peculiarities but also subject to the influence of circumstances and events. Trnka et al. In the s, research in computer science, engineering, psychology and neuroscience has been aimed at developing devices that recognize human affect display and model emotions.

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      It is an interdisciplinary field spanning computer sciences , psychology , and cognitive science. The data gathered is analogous to the cues humans use to perceive emotions in others. Another area within affective computing is the design of computational devices proposed to exhibit either innate emotional capabilities or that are capable of convincingly simulating emotions. Emotional speech processing recognizes the user's emotional state by analyzing speech patterns. The detection and processing of facial expression or body gestures is achieved through detectors and sensors.

      In the late 19th century, the most influential theorists were William James — and Carl Lange — Lange was a Danish physician and psychologist. Working independently, they developed the James—Lange theory , a hypothesis on the origin and nature of emotions.

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