Emotions and Feelings

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 COMN 2111
Emotions in Communication
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The Cognitive Unconscious and Conscious Mind in Interaction
Emotions and Feelings
Our body and our conscious mind always three Levels of reaction
Emotions - bio chemical response to changes: instant (+) or (-) evaluation
Non-verbal reactions to those bio chemical shifts
Cognitive interpretation of these reactions – Feelings
 Our Two Minds Interacting
The cognitive unconscious (the body-mind) communicates using
biochemical energy (somatic markers) - “emotions”
o Through them we become conscious pay of stimuli, retrieve
information from memory, sort out our perceptions, and decide
things.
o The fuel and the encoding tool of the cognitive unconscious.
We’ve already said the cog. unc. and it’s emotions help the conscious
mind decide – more on that
But we will also discuss how these bio-chemical surges emerge from the
wordless levels of our mind into our conscious internal chatter
To be interpreted and named as feelings.
 EMOTION AND COGNITION SEPARATED FOR MILLENIA
Feelings are dangerous
“Rule your feelings, lest your feelings rule you”
Publius Syrus (1st Century BC)
Feelings are less
“I think therefore I am”
Rene Descartes (1630’s)
“Emotions cause a complete loss of cerebral control [and contain] no
trace of conscious purpose”
P.T. Young (1936) author of widely read psychology text
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EMOTION AND COGNITION INTERVOWEN
The emotions are of quite extraordinary importance in the total economy
of living organisms and do not deserve being put into opposition with
‘intelligence’. The emotions are, it seems, themselves a high order of
intelligence.”
O.H. Mowrer (1960)
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Our culture provides us with a “common sense” model of feeling
awareness.
Something happens in the environment – context - we notice it
consciously and then respond physiologically with an emotion.
Schachter’s research changes this in 1960. We had it backwards.
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Shifting our Model of Feelings
Shifting our Model of Feelings
His hypothesis – our body-mind has an Affective Appraisal system
Something happens outside of us and our body reacts first – a state of
Diffuse Physiological Arousal (DPA)
Then our conscious mind notices and seeks an answer
Matches our internal state of arousal to the situation
Names the emotional arousal as a feeling.
The research story
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Real World Research
When we are in a state of DPA not only does our conscious mind look
outward to explain why – but it finds a self-enhancing reason
The researchers’ hypothesis was that strong emotions are re-labelled as
sexual attraction when two conditions are met:
(1) an acceptable object is present (a good-looking female), and
(2) the emotion-producing circumstances do not require the full attention
of the individual – your life is not a stake.
Real World Research
A 1974 replication of Schacter - the conscious mind will use cues in the
external environment to explain automatically triggered bodily sensations
Experimental Group: The Capilano Suspension Bridge 450’ long; 287’
above river. Young men met near the end of bridge for “interviews”. Hi
state of DPA.
Control Group: Nearby small bridge; solid construction only 10” above
river. Young men met near the end of bridge for “interviews”. Lo state of
DPA.
Real World Research
The bridge really is high above the river and it tilts and sways a lot – worse
when many people on it. As I recently found out.
When you come off the bridge your body feels like it has had way too
much caffeine – red bull high – buzzing.
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So what happened? They were met by a good looking student – doing an
research on the effects of natural beauty on creativity. Very few
questions then a sketch of a young woman holding out a hand – and partly
covering her face – write a story about her.
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The stories were later scored for manifest sexual content.
A story with any mention of sexual intercourse received 5 points; but if the
most sexual reference was "girl friend," it received a score of 2; "kiss"
counted 3; and "lover," 4.
On completion of the questionnaire, the interviewer thanked the subject
and offered to explain the experiment in more detail when she had more
time. Gave name and phone number. Different name for experimental and
control group. It was felt that differential calling rates might reflect
differential attraction to the interviewer. And level of attraction related to
DPA.
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The “Swinging Bridge” Data
Subjects on the swinging bridge expressed double the amount of sexual
content in their “creative” story than people on the solid bridge.
More of them took her phone number.
And 50% tried to call her – only 12% of the control subjects called.
They were in full DPA - their conscious brain found a “logical” answer to it
– it must be sexual attraction to the experimenter – not fear.
Showed in the non-conscious use of sexual imagery about a neutral
picture and in their continuing interest in the woman.
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The “Swinging Bridge” Data
In Summary: Where Feelings Comes From
Emotions begin as instant bio-chemical response to changes in our
environment: instant positive or negative evaluations, which produce,
Rapid bodily reactions to those bio-chemical shifts (changes of breathing,
sweat, muscle tension, etc.)
The conscious brain – the left frontal lobe’s job is to match up your internal
state with the external context – to fine cues there to explain and interpret
these reactions
The external cue it finds and the body’s bio-chemical reaction may have
little or nothing to do with one another) - “Quick and dirty” match
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 Feelings and Mood
The conscious mind has named the feeling and moved on but the biochemistry of body hasn’t
Lingers on as a “mood”
o The sunny day study:
o People called on a sunny day - more positive about their current
state of happiness and life in general than people contacted on a
rainy day.
o People given a small, almost worthless gift, were in a better mood
and gave higher ratings to their household appliances – when
interviewed 50’ later – than others people walking near them who
were stopped and asked at the same time but who had received
nothing.
o
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Bad moods do just the opposite – make life and other people look more
dangerous.
Our conscious brain has the same problem as it does with misattributing
arousal …if we haven’t figured out why we’re in a particular mood…we
sometimes allow that feeling to inform our opinion of things in general.
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Feelings and Mood
Feelings and mood matter mostly when we’re not paying attention,
because when we do notice our situation, mood doesn’t affect our
opinions:
In the mood and weather (sunny day) study:
When students were casually asked at the beginning of the conversation –
“how’s the weather, there” – that is, the weather was brought to their
consciousness - they didn’t let it confuse their thoughts about their state of
life.
So we don’t have to be under the automatic control of our moods- we just
need to awaken to the fact that we are having one.
Come up with a reason why. Then it no longer shapes other unrelated
thoughts.
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Feelings and Mood
Affect Infusion Model (AIM)
Affect- feeling - is most likely to influence cognition, judgments and
decision making when under pressure:
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Decision-maker’s faced with a complex task,
Are motivated to make an accurate judgment,
Ambiguity exists,
A lot of new information needs to be assimilated
o Remember, Damasio’s research on those who couldn’t decide
anything and how first responders decide in quickly changing
situations.
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OR WHEN THERE’S
No pressure at all (most common)
Need to make simple judgments
Lack personal relevance
Low demand for accuracy
Other demands on current information processing
In the above instances, Decision-makers more likely to deduce their
judgment from their current affective state - how they feel at the moment.
 The Role of Feelings in Human Affairs
We now know that feelings influence:
The judgments people make
Material recalled from memory
Attributions for success and failure
Creativity
Inductive and deductive reasoning
The quality our relationships with others
The quality of our communication acts
 EMOTION RESEARCH OVERVIEW
Schachter –1960- new understanding of how we feel
Dutton – real life –swinging bridge- replication-1974
 EMOTION RESEARCH OVERVIEW
R. Zajonc - emotions shape thought: non-conscious preference learning 1980.
Reuven Bar-On starts research in 1980 - coins the term Emotional
Intelligence in 1985 - to describe his approach to assessing emotional
competences – to separate it from measures of IQ
Mayer and Salovey start their work on the potentials for emotionally
intelligent behavior in the 80’s - Couldn’t find a mainstream journal to
publish their research in 1990 – 3 three years later – it’s a sub-discipline of
psychology.
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SO WHY ARE FEELINGS – AND THE EMOTIONS BEHIND THEM - SO
POWERFUL?
Daniel Goleman (1995) “Emotional Intelligence” – described much of the
breakthrough research on emotions of the 80’s and early 90’s and
explained the answer to our question in terms of our brain’s evolutionary
development.
Let’s watch him for a moment.
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THE BRAIN’S DEVELOPMENT
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THE BRAIN’S DEVELOPMENT:
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QUICK REVIEW
BRAINSTEM - TOP OF SPINE - AUTOMATIC FUNCTIONS
LIMBIC SYSTEM - OLDER- FOR PHYSICAL SURVIVAL - OPERATES
QUICKLY - WITHOUT THOUGHT
CONTAINS AMYDALA - STORES EMOTIONAL PREFERENCE
MEMORIES
WARN US OF THREAT TO SURVIVAL
NEOCORTEX - PLAN, STRATEGIZE, MORE SLOWLY CONNECTS
THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS
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EMOTION AND COGNITION INTERWOVEN AND IN BALANCE
A. Damasio - “Descartes Error” (1994),
Emotion and Cognition - Usually balanced necessarily operate in tight
harmony
Emotions inform our thoughts - allow us to choose - preferences (Zajonc
affirmed)
Remember, Goleman said our brains store our memories in difference
places – the emotional aspect – the somatic markers –in the amygdala
We will discuss the issue of balance between the amydala and the frontal
lobes imbalance in our next lecture.
 SS 2311
The Other Mind
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 Emotion And Cognition: From Harmony to Hi-Jack
J. LeDoux, “The Emotional Brain” (1996) discovered that the Amygdala –
the emotional memory centre of the unconscious brian’s Limbic System –
uses very small bits of info (thin slices) to assess threat
And when it perceives one it can “hi-jack” conscious thought - can take
over.
Leading to Flooding, swamping of our conscious thought and decisionmaking processes
D. Goleman – popularizes this idea in 1995 book “Emotional Intelligence”
–he calls it the “amygdala hi jack”
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THE AMYGDALA HIJACK
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 AMYGDALA HIJACK
Uses the biochemistry of fight/flight
CHANGES OF BLOOD CHEMISTRY
BLOOD FLOW
BREATHING
BUT CAN’T DISCRIMINATE BETWEEN “REAL” THREAT AND
SYMBOLIC THREAT
SO WE CAN SAY OR DO THINGS WE REGRET
Think about last time you “lost it” on someone while you watch this hi-jack
from a movie called “A Few Good Men”
Is this anyway to treat your friends if you’re having a bad day?
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AMYGDALA HIJACK
Set up for Tom Cruse’s Hijack
Navy lawyer Tom Cruise and two colleagues – one of whom is Demi
Moore are defending two young marines- secretly given an order to
harass a fellow marine –they follow it and while hazing him he dies. They
are accused of murder even though they followed a direct order.
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Tom’s had a bad day. In court Demi Moore made a mistake – undermined
his defense – maked him look unprepared. Then after court he found out
that his key witness – 2nd in command - has killed himself rather than tell
the truth about the secret order.
He goes out drinking, comes home hopeless, angry, frustrated and deeply
sarcastic about Demi’s error and her suggestion that he call the camp
commander and “get out of him” under oath that he gave the order which
the two young men were following.
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TOM’S AMYGDALA HIJACK
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Amygdala Hijack: Summary
Notice that the drinking helps to reduce the control the left frontal lobe
exercise over the amygdala to maintain balance.
When Demi suggests that he call the camp commander to the stand – his
amygdala screams danger – and you can see what happened.
o This happens in groups too. Group actions act like alcohol.
Consider the Vancouver hockey riot (large group + alchohol)…the
day after many of rioters were pleading for forgiveness – a left
frontal lobe choice – and unable to explain their “hi jacked” behavior
from the night before – captured on video.
o Can We Do Anything to Avoid This Kind of Imbalance?
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Become more aware of your feelings as you interact
Learn to name them and describe them – give the left frontal lobe a
chance
See Plutchik’s circumplex in text – simple, clear descriptors of the
essentials
Then talk them out rather than store them up and lash out
Identify reasons for your feelings
Tell them why you are feeling the way you are.
Anchor in the present
Stay focused on the feelings you are having in this moment.
Avoid using “always” and “never” in your descriptions.
• Own your feelings
Start your sentences with “I” (“I’m feeling …) not “You” as in (“You made
me …”).
• Say what you want the other to do
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Can We Do Anything to Avoid This Kind of Imbalance?
I promise to give you lots more information on how to “talk to yourself” to
manage your emotional reactions in the lectures on self-management at
the end of the term.
See you next week.
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