Arnolds Theory Of Emotions

The American psychologist Magda B. Arnold's (1903-2002) theory of emotions emphasizes the cognitive factors associated with emotional behavior that involves a continuous sequence of reaction and appraisal where a series of information-processing steps takes place. In the first phase of processing, the person typically perceives some event, object, or person and is prepared to evaluate it in a particular way: as "good," which leads to approach behavior, as "bad," which leads to avoidance behavior, or as "indifferent," which leads to ignoring the event. The next phase is appraisal, where the person decides whether what is happening will hurt, help, or have no effect on her or him. The third and fourth phases are bodily change and emotion, both of which typically occur at almost the same time. Phase five is action; some individuals in certain situations skip from the bodily changes in stage three and go directly to stage five. For example, if a strange dog comes running toward you with its teeth bared, you take rapid action and run away without thinking (as epinephrine rushes into your system). When you reach safety, you become aware of your heart pounding and, at that time, you experience the emotion of fear. Arnold's theory assumes that the entire appraisal sequence takes place in an instant. Arnold distinguishes among a few basic emotions that are simple reactions to the appraisal of basic situations: dislike, love (liking), aversion, despair, desire, anger, fear, hope, daring, sorrow, and joy. Arnold 's theory stresses that the intuitive, spontaneous appraisal in an emotional episode is supplemented by a deliberate value judgment, especially in adults, and it functions in the same way that one's sensory knowledge is complemented by cognitions. According to

Arnold's cognitive theory, emotions can be socialized where social attitudes and customs influence one's intuitive appraisal of events, and where affective memory preserves one's previous encounters with intense emotion-arousing stimuli. Affective memory may account for many of the "instinctive" feelings one experiences, such as immediate dislikes or likes for something or someone, reactions to fearful stimuli that later become phobias, prejudice connected with unresolved and unpleasant situations from the past, and even "love at first sight." See also COGNITIVE THEORIES OF EMOTIONS; EMOTIONS, THEORIES AND LAWS OF; LAZARUS' THEORY OF EMOTIONS; SCHACHTER-SINGER'S THEORY OF EMOTIONS. REFERENCES

Arnold, M. B. (1960). Emotion andpersonal-ity. New York: Columbia University Press.

Arnold, M. B. (1970). Feelings and emotions: The Loyola Symposium. New York: Academic Press. Arnold, M. B. (1984). Memory and the brain. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.


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