Evaluation of the two factor
theory of emotion
By Mr Daniel Hansson
Empirical support:
Zillman & Bryant (1974)
• Participants engaged in a strenuos
physical exercise and then participated in
a task, during which they were provoked
by a confederate of the experimenter.
Participants who had exercised responded
more aggressively than those who did not
Empirical support: Dutton & Aron
• Male participants were asked to meet an attractive
female interviewer in the middle of one of two bridges.
One was a safe-looking bridge and one looked more
dangerous (high and narrow). An attractive female
researcher interviewed the male passers-by in the middle
of the two bridges. She gave them her telephone number
in case they wanted to ask about the results. Men on the
less safe-looking bridge were more aroused by the
height of the bridge, and were likely to confuse their
feelings for being 'lovestruck'. They were then more likely
to call her back, looking for a date.
Other strengths
• The theory was the first to emphasize the
central role of appraisal in emotions
• The original study was well controlled and
• Replicability. The original study has not been replicated
(E.g. Marshall & Zimbardo 1979)
• Ecological validity. The original study has problems with
ecological validity.
• The results of the original study does not completely
support the theory
• Zajonc (1984) argues that cognition and emotion involve
separate systems and that emotion can occur without
cognitive appraisal
• Le Doux’s (1999) research suggests that emotional
centres in the brain can receive information directly from
the sensory areas without conscious appraisal

Evaluation of the two factor theory of emotion