How Does the James-Lange Theory Account for Emotions?
The James-Lange theory of emotion proposes that emotions occur as a result of physiological reactions to events. Learn about how this theory works.
The James–Lange theory is a hypothesis on the origin and nature of emotions and is one of the earliest theories of emotion within modern psychology. It was developed by philosopher John Dewey and named for two 19th-century scholars, William James and Carl Lange (see modern criticism for more on the theory's origin). The basic premise of the theory is that physiological arousal instigates the experience of emotion. Previously people considered emotions as reactions to some significant events or their features, i.e. events come first, and then there is an emotional response. James-Lange theory proposed that the state of the body can induce emotions or emotional dispositions. In other words, this theory suggests that when we feel teary, it generates a disposition for sad emotions; when our heartbeat is out of normality, it makes us feel anxiety. Instead of feeling an emotion and subsequent physiological (bodily) response, the theory proposes that the physiological change is primary, and emotion is then experienced when the brain reacts to the information received via the body's nervous system. It proposes that each specific category of emotion is attached to a unique and different pattern of physiological arousal and emotional behaviour in reaction due to an exciting stimulus.
Power posing is a controversial self-improvement technique or "life hack" in which people stand in a posture that they mentally associate with being powerful, in the hope of feeling more confident and behaving more assertively. Though the underlying science is disputed, its promoters continue to argue that people can foster positive life changes simply by assuming a "powerful" or "expansive" posture for a few minutes before an interaction in which confidence is needed. One popular image of the technique in practice is that of candidates "lock[ing] themselves in bathroom stalls before job interviews to make victory V's with their arms."
Facial feedback hypothesis
The facial feedback hypothesis, rooted in the conjectures of Charles Darwin and William James, is that one's facial expression directly affects their emotional experience. Specifically, physiological activation of the facial regions associated with certain emotions holds a direct effect on the elicitation of such emotional states, and the lack of or inhibition of facial activation will result in the suppression (or absence altogether) of corresponding emotional states.