J

JACKSON'S LAW. See NEURON/NEURAL/NERVE THEORY.

JAMES-LANGE/LANGE-JAMES THEORY OF EMOTIONS. This theory is credited to both the American philosopher/psychologist William James (1842-1910) and the Danish psychologist Carl Georg Lange (18341900), who independently proposed the theory. The term James-Lange theory is seen more frequently in the psychological literature, but the Lange-James theory has been used as well. The theory is sometimes called the counterintuitive theory of emotions because it states that overt, external action (e.g., laughter) precedes the internal/emotional response (e.g., happiness). The older, classical, popular, commonsense, or intuitive theory of emotions states the sequence of events occurs in the opposite order: the internal event (e.g., happiness) precedes the external action (e.g., laughter). The commonsense theory states we laugh because we're happy, whereas the James-Lange theory holds that we're happy because we laugh. The empirical works by James and Lange were among the first proposing a theory that identified a physiological mechanism and neural basis for emotionality. However, the ancient Greeks set up four non-empirically based categories of physiological states (involving a predominant ingredient in one's bodily fluids) for emotionality: the sanguine, melancholic, choleric, and phlegmatic temperaments. The key idea behind the James-Lange theory is that an emotion is not a direct reaction to an environmental happening, but rather it is a reaction to how the body responds to the environmental event. James (1890, p. 450) stated that "we feel sorry because we cry, angry because we strike, afraid because we tremble, and not that we cry, strike, or tremble because we are sorry, angry, or fearful, as the case may be." James' theory posits that the bodily changes directly follow the perception of the exciting fact, that one's feeling of the same changes as they occur is the emotion, and that every one of the bodily changes is felt acutely or obscurely the moment it occurs. Lange's theory posits that a stimulus object or situation immediately leads to vasomotor changes wherever blood vessels are found. According to Lange, the secondary changes that occur in the bodily tissues give rise to the sensations that constitute the emotion. Overall, the James-Lange theory does more than simply focus attention on bodily (somatic and autonomic) responses that occur during stress; it proposes that these bodily responses form the essential basis for an emotional experience/episode. The strongest objections to the James-Lange theory were raised by the American physiologist Walter B. Cannon (1871-1945), who cited five principal criticisms: total separation of the viscera from the central nervous system does not alter emotional behavior; the same visceral changes occur in diverse emotional states and in nonemotional states; the viscera are relatively insensitive structures; the visceral changes are too slow to be a direct source of emotional feeling; and artificial induction of the visceral changes typical of strong emotions does not produce them. In the light of such criticisms, some writers suggest that the James-Lange theory by its very nature and formulation is not a theory per se but rather an untestable hypothesis. It is clear today that greater attention is given to the influence of the central nervous system on emotions and one's cognitions and interpretation of events, rather than merely on the examination of visceral processes to achieve the most comprehensive view of emotionality. See also CANNON/CANNON-BARD THEORY; COGNITIVE THEORIES OF EMOTION; GALEN'S DOCTRINE OF THE FOUR TEMPERAMENTS; EMOTIONS, THEORIES/LAWS OF. REFERENCES

James, W. (1884). What is an emotion? Mind, 9, 188-205.

Lange, C. G. (1885). Om sindsbevaegelser.

Leipzig: T. Thomas. James, W. (1890). The principles of psychology. New York: Holt. Cannon, W. B. (1927). The James-Lange theory of emotions: A critical examination and an alternative theory.

American Journal of Psychology, 39, 106-124. Cannon, W. B. (1931). Again the JamesLange and the thalamic theories of emotion. Psychological Review, 38, 281-295.

JAMES' TIME THEORY. The American philosopher/psychologist William James (1842-1910) described a psychic law of time perception (based on the work of Paul Janet) by which the apparent length of an interval at a given epoch of a person's life is proportional to the total length of the person's life itself. Thus, for example, the law states that a 10-year old child feels one year as one-tenth of his whole life, whereas a 50-year old adult feels one year as one-fiftieth of his whole life, where the "whole life" apparently preserves a constant length. James adds to Janet's "law" the theoretical notion of the foreshortening of the years (as one grows older) as being due to the monotony of memory's content and the consequent simplification of the "backward-glancing" view. In his general account of time and thinking, James invokes various cognitive processes and phenomenal events. His theoretical conjectures and constructs of the specious/sensible present [cf., Whitrow (1980) for the origin of the terms psychological present and specious present (mainly via E. R. Clay in 1882) - refers to the "true present" that is durationless, a moment of time sharply dividing past from future and clearly distinct from both], the transitional processes from simultaneity to successiveness, and the differences between experiences of "time in passing" (prospective time) and "time in memory" (retrospective time) are still recognized and cited by contemporary psychologists studying time. Thus, James' generalized notions are valid today concerning the issue of "duration" estimation: experienced duration ("prospective judgment") lengthens as attention to time increases, whereas remembered duration ("retrospective judgment") lengthens as memory contents change. See also BLOCK'S CON-TEXTUALISTIC MODEL OF TIME; TIME, THEORIES OF. REFERENCES

James, W. (1890). The principles of psychology. Vol. 1. New York: Holt.

Whitrow, G. J. (1980). The natural philosophy of time. 2nd ed. Oxford, UK: Clarendon.

Conquering Fear In The 21th Century

Conquering Fear In The 21th Century

The Ultimate Guide To Overcoming Fear And Getting Breakthroughs. Fear is without doubt among the strongest and most influential emotional responses we have, and it may act as both a protective and destructive force depending upon the situation.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment