Cognitive Level of Analysis: Cognition and Emotion


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Section 3.2 of my IB HL Psychology text book all about cognition and emotion at the Cognitive Level of Analysis. Discusses the biology behind emotions and how this affects stress and memory. Short section!

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Cognitive Level of Analysis: Cognition and Emotion

  1. 1. Cognitive Level of Analysis Cognition and Emotions
  2. 2. Emotions • Three components of emotions: – Physiological changes • i.e. arousal of the autonomic nervous system and the endocrine system (unconscious changes) – Subjective feelings • i.e. what the person actually feels • happiness, sadness, etc – Associated behavior • i.e. smiling, running away, etc
  3. 3. Emotions • Serve as a guide to evaluate how important situations are • Not necessarily a conscious process • Cognitive appraisal is simply an interpretation which results in fight or flight • Fight or flight: physiological response which prepares the individual for direct action to confront or avoid danger and a cognitive appraisal of the arousal – Cognitive appraisal: decision about what to do based on previous experiences
  4. 4. Biological Factors in Emotion • Amygdala seems critical in the brain’s emotional circuit – May play a critical role in emotional memories • LeDoux describes two biological pathways of emotions in the brain – Short Route • From thalamus  amygdala – Long Route • Neocortex (sensory cortex)  hippocampus  amygdala
  5. 5. LeDoux’s Emotional Pathways Neocortex/ Sensory Cortex Hippocampus Sensory Thalamus Amygdala Emotional Stimulus Emotional Response Long route Short route
  6. 6. LeDoux’s Emotional Pathways • Amygdala receives input from sensory processing areas in the neocortex and thalamus • Projects these to areas in the brainstem that control systems like fight or flight • Connections between the different brain structures allow: – The Amygdala to transform sensory info into emotional signals – The initiation and control of emotional responses
  7. 7. LeDoux’s Emotional Pathways • Advantageous to have both pathways because it allows us to be flexible in our responses! • For danger, the fast and direct pathway is best • The long pathway allows for a more thorough evaluation of a situation – Helps us avoid inappropriate responses to situations
  8. 8. Appraisal • Appraisals = Evaluations related to how the situation will impact one’s well-being – According to Lazarus • Positive emotions emerge if the appraisal assesses potential benefit & negative for potential harm • An important part of people’s reaction to emotional stress • People aren’t passive; they actively interpret and evaluate the world around them
  9. 9. Lazarus and Folkman (1984) • An individual’s experience of stress can be moderated by a number of factors – i.e. appraisal of threat, appraisal of one’s own resources for dealing with stress, etc – Influenced by personal factors like motivation, beliefs, and environmental factors
  10. 10. Stress Strategies • Problem-focused coping: Change the problematic situation that causes emotional stress • Emotion-focused coping: handle the emotions rather than change the problematic situation – i.e. escape, self-control, seeking social support, reappraisal
  11. 11. Speisman et al. (1964) • Same video of unpleasant genital surgery • 1 with gruesome commentary, 1 with happy commentary, 1 with intellectual commentary • Participants reacted more emotionally to the gruesome/traumatic video • Individual’s interpretation or appraisal of the event is more important than the events themselves
  12. 12. Speisman et al. (1964) • Issues of artificiality – It was conducted in a laboratory – Deliberate deception and unpleasant situations = questionable ethics
  13. 13. The Flashbulb Theory • (Brown and Kulik 1977) • A special kind of emotional memory which refers to vivid and detailed memories of highly emotional events that appear to be recorded in the brain as though with the help of a camera’s flash
  14. 14. Brown and Kulik • Suggested there may be a special neural mechanism which triggers an emotional arousal because the event is unexpected or extremely important • It is supported by modern neuroscience – Emotional events are better remembered than less emotional events
  15. 15. Neisser (1982) • Questions the Flashbulb Memory Theory: – People don’t always know the event is important until later • Memories are vivid because the event is rehearsed/reconsidered after the event – The flashbulb memories are governed by a storytelling schema following a specific structure • i.e. Where were we? What we were doing? Who told us? How did we feel? Etc.
  16. 16. Neisser and Harsh (1992) / Talarico and Rubin (2003) • Neisser and Harsh (1992) – Interviewed witnesses of Challenger Space Shuttle tragedy 24 hours after and 2 years after – Participants were confident in their accuracy, but 40% of participants had distorted memories • Talarico and Rubin (2003) – Emotional intensity was often associated with greater memory confidence, but not with accuracy
  17. 17. Breckler (1994) / Holmberg and Holmes (1994) • Breckler (1994): – People’s current attitudes about blood donation impacted their memories about how they felt when they donated blood in the past • Holmberg and Holmes (1994): – Men whose marriages became less happy overtime tended to recall early interactions in the marriage as being more negative than they had originally reported