Discrete Emotions Theory - History


Darwin (1872) described several facial, physiological, and behavioral processes that are associated with different emotions in humans as well as animals. Although Darwin was important in the creation of the discrete emotion theory, William McDougall was the first to believe that emotions were caused by many biological instincts or urges.

Aristotle also noted that emotions ensue certain reaction types of bodily reactions, which implies the physiology of emotions.

William James believed in discrete emotion theory but often argued against it. He believed emotions were made from mental events being broken down into smaller elements but each element wasn’t a specific emotion. He thought of emotions as a product instead of separate individual things.

James (1884) and Dewey (1894) suggested that emotions are associated with different neutral and physiological processes and also with different functions and experiences.

Tomkins' (1962, 1963) idea was influenced by Darwin's concept. He proposed that there is a limited number of pancultural basic emotions or "affect programs." His conclusion was that there are eight pancultural affect programs namely, surprise, interest, joy, rage, fear, disgust, shame, and anguish.

John Watson believed emotions could be describe in physical states.

Edwin Newman and colleagues who believed emotions were a combination of one’s experiences, physiology, and behaviour.

Floyd Allport came up with the facial feedback hypothesis.

After performing a series of cross-cultural studies, Ekman and Izard reported that there are various similarities in the way people across the world produce and recognize the facial expressions of at least six emotions.

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