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Zajonc and LeDoux

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Zajonc and LeDoux

BANG!

You have been startled awake by a loud banging noise, and your immediate response is fear; you were sleeping peacefully just moments ago. Within seconds, you realize that it’s raining hard, and you rationalize those sounds as claps of thunder. This scenario is an example of Zajonc and LeDoux's theory of emotion and cognition!

  • What is Zajonc and LeDoux's theory of emotion?
  • Who were Zajonc and LeDoux?
  • What are examples of Zajonc and LeDoux's theory of emotion?

Major Contributions of Zajonc and LeDoux

Zajonc and LeDoux are often paired together due to their combined efforts on one of the major theories of emotion. Nevertheless, each man contributed individually to the world of psychology. To help you understand their theories, keep in mind that emotion is a psychological state associated with anger, joy, envy, love, etc. Cognitions are thoughts, or, how we process our experiences and sensations.

Robert B. Zajonc

Born in 1923, the Polish American Zajonc's achievements reside in the realm of social psychology. His major accomplishments include his theory of emotion, the mere-exposure effect, and social facilitation.

We will be looking at Zajonc’s theory of emotion later. First, let's take a look at the mere-exposure effect and the concept of social facilitation.

Mere–Exposure Effect

Zajonc’s mere-exposure effect is the concept that people gravitate towards certain objects because of previous exposure to that object. Zajonc based this idea on examples of social behavior that included connections between thoughts and feelings.

Alice loves collecting dolls because her grandmother’s house always had dolls on display.

Social Facilitation

Zajonc theorized that people tend to perform better in the presence of others. Zajonc believed that if others were observing us, we would try our best to gain their acceptance or approval, and we would try harder if they were observing, rather than if no one was observing.

JJ notices that she tends to study better when she is in the library with others around her.

Joseph E. LeDoux

Born in 1949, LeDoux is an American neuroscientist whose works and accomplishments revolve around mental processes and emotions; his primary focus is understanding fear and anxiety. Two breakthroughs of LeDoux’s include his theory of threat response, and his concept of two pathways.

Threat Response

Ledoux proposed that people recognize threats after experiencing emotions of fear and anxiety. Ledoux theorized that people don’t always recognize threats immediately. They need to use rational thinking skills before they can decide if the threat is legitimate.

Jake and Xavier decide to play a prank on John by scaring him; they hide behind a wall and wait for John to walk by. As John is walking, he feels happy because he is on his way to see his friends. As John walks closer to where Jake and Xavier are hiding, they suddenly jump out and scare him. John jumps away in fright and feels his heart pounding. He recognizes that his friends were playing a prank and calms down.

Two Pathways/Dual Pathways

LeDoux proposes that there are two different pathways for experiencing emotion. LeDoux says that there is both a “low road” and a “high road” on this dual pathway; the “low road” bypasses thinking because the emotions are immediate, while the “high road” requires thinking to perceive the emotion.

The Meaning of Zajonc's and LeDoux's Theories

Based on their works and ideas, Zajonc and LeDoux share the belief that our emotional responses and cognitive responses do not always follow a specific pattern. Both theorized that some emotions are processed before cognition can occur, while others come after cognition.

Emotions that are helpful to our survival (e.g., fear) come before our cognitive rationalization, while emotions that have less impact on survival, or develop over time (e.g., love) come after cognitive rationalization. The reason for these different patterns is that we need to process and feel fear quickly to respond to danger. We need to know that we might be in danger right away, and feeling happens more quickly than thinking and perception.

Zajonc and LeDoux girl making many different faces of different emotions StudySmarterEmotional expression, pexels.com

In instances when our emotions come after cognitions, we need to think about the situation before we know how to feel about it. We need a cognitive reason to feel a certain emotion instead of another.

Ella and Jake have been dating for 3 months now. Ella likes him and thinks he could be the "one". Ella’s friends ask her if she loves Jake. Ella thinks about it. She goes through all the things she likes about Jake in her mind and all the experiences they have shared. Through her introspection and memories, Ella comes to realize that she loves Jake.

You can think of these two emotional patterns as two different pathways:

  1. A stimulus is introduced --> An emotion is felt --> The brain works on understanding the emotion.
  2. A stimulus is introduced --> The brain decides how to feel about the stimuli --> An emotion is felt.

Zajonc's Theory of Emotion

Zajonc also theorized that emotion can be separate from cognition. Think back to when you had your first crush. Did you immediately like that person without knowing why? That is one way Zajonc believed that emotion can occur: without a cognitive appraisal. You can feel something without knowing why you feel it! Zajonc believed we can be primed to feel a certain way or engage in certain behaviors.

A recent experiment had volunteers view flashing images of happy and sad faces. The volunteers were then given something to drink. The results showed that volunteers drank more when they'd just seen images of happy faces. The volunteers did this without noticing the correlation, demonstrating that it was a subconscious reaction. Emotions and behaviors can be primed unconsciously, which would back up what Zajonc believed.

Zajonc defended his beliefs by asserting that:

  • Not all emotions require purposeful thinking.

    • Audrey gets happy when she listens to K-pop music; she can’t speak Korean but she loves listening to it (she can't explain why she feels happy when hearing it).

  • Some emotions can occur without a cognitive analysis of them.

    • Lindsay thinks roller coasters are frightening, but she decides to ride on one anyway. She ends up loving them!

Examples of Zajonc-LeDoux's Theory

A major example of Zajonc-LeDoux's theory is subjective experiences. Subjective experiences refer to the impact on human experience caused by internal emotional and cognitive processes. The opposite of this is objective experiences, which are based on real-life occurrences, i.e., what actually happened, and not how we felt about it or interpreted it. While objective experiences can be verified, subjective experiences are based on individual perceptions.

An example of a highly subjective experience is how people experience pain. Anyone can experience pain, but how we process our emotions and thoughts about the pain varies. How the experience of pain is processed emotionally and cognitively impacts how intensely the pain is experienced.

Another example of Zajonc-Ledoux's theory is one person's judgment of another person. Think back to a time that you judged something or someone. It could be positive or negative: What was the basis for your judgment? Was it based on emotion, or what you thought about the object or person?

Your basis for judgment relates to the two emotional pathways in Zajonc-LeDoux's theory. People pass judgments based on emotions or based on thoughts, and both types of judgments can influence the other.

The Importance of Zajonc and LeDoux's Theory

In their combined theories of emotion, Zajonc and LeDoux created the basis for understanding that emotion and cognition can interact in different ways. Together, both men theorized that emotion could occur before or after cognition, and these two different processes depend on our survival instincts and the passive formation of feelings.

Individually, Zajonc was able to show that humans form preferences based on past experiences. This theory helps explain why kids form certain fears, or why people enjoy certain activities. Zajonc also demonstrated that humans tend to perform better in the presence of others because of a desire for affirmation or approval.

LeDoux described how emotions can develop through two different pathways. His concept of "dual pathways" was a novel theory as it showed that emotions could bypass certain mental processes, based on the amount of brain function required. This theory tested whether or not all emotions require cognition. LeDoux also cultivated the idea of threat responses.

Overall, the research of both men impacted how we study and understand emotion. Their ideas questioned and replaced past ideas about the relationship between cognition and emotion.

Zajonc and LeDoux - Key Takeaways

  • Zajonc’s major accomplishments include his theory of emotion, the mere-exposure effect, and social facilitation.
  • Two breakthroughs of LeDoux’s include his theory on threat response, and his concept of two pathways.
  • Based on their works and ideas, Zajonc and LeDoux share the belief that our emotional responses and cognitive responses do not always follow the same pattern.
  • Zajonc and LeDoux theorized that some emotions are processed before cognition can occur, while others come after cognition.
  • Emotion can occur before cognition and vice versa:
    • A stimulus is introduced --> An emotion is felt --> The brain works on understanding the emotion.

    • A stimulus is introduced --> The brain decides how to feel about the stimuli --> An emotion is felt.

  • Zajonc also theorized that emotion can be completely separate from cognition.
  • The theories of both Zajonc and LeDoux play an important role in the study of emotions because they help us better understand the ways that emotion and cognition work together in different situations.

Frequently Asked Questions about Zajonc and LeDoux

Zajonc explained emotion as a psychological state associated with anger, joy, envy, and love. He believed that emotion could be independent of cognition. 

The theories of both Zajonc and LeDoux play an important role in the study of emotions because they helped create the understanding that emotion and cognition do not follow the same order for every situation.

Zajonc and LeDoux share the belief that our emotional responses and cognitive responses do not always follow a specific pattern. 

Both theorized that some emotions are processed before cognition can occur, while others come after cognition. 

An example of Zajonic and LeDoux theory of emotion is of Jake and Xavier. Jake and Xavier decide to play a prank on John by scaring him; they hide behind a wall and wait for John to walk by. As John is walking, he feels happy that he will get to see his friends. As John walks closer to where Jake and Xavier are hiding, they suddenly jump out and spook him. John jumps away in fright and he feels his heart beating. He recognizes that his friends were playing a prank and calms down.

Zajonc’s major accomplishments include his theory of emotion, the mere-exposure effect, and social facilitation. Two breakthroughs of LeDoux’s include his theory on threat response and his “two pathways”. 

Final Zajonc and LeDoux Quiz

Question

Who was Robert B. Zajonc? 

Show answer

Answer

Robert Zajonc was a Polish American whose works resided in the realm of Social Psychology. 

Show question

Question

Who is Joseph E. LeDoux? 

Show answer

Answer

LeDoux is an American neuroscientist. 

Show question

Question

What is Zajonc's "Mere-Exposure Effect"? 

Show answer

Answer

Zajonc’s mere-exposure effect is the concept that people gravitate towards certain objects because of previous exposure to that object. 

Show question

Question

Give an example of Zajonc's "Mere-Exposure Effect". 

Show answer

Answer

Alice loves collecting dolls because her grandmother’s house always had dolls on display.

Show question

Question

What is Zajonc's theory of "Social Facilitation"? 

Show answer

Answer

  • Zajonc theorized that people tend to perform better in the presence of others. 
  • Zajonc believed that if others were observing us, we would try our best to gain their acceptance or approval, and we would try harder if they were observing than we would if no one was observing.

Show question

Question

Give an example of Zajonc's theory of "Social Facilitation". 

Show answer

Answer

JJ notices that she tends to study better when she is in the library with others around her.

Show question

Question

What did LeDoux propose in his theory of "Dual Pathways"? 

Show answer

Answer

LeDoux proposes that there are two different pathways for experiencing emotion. LeDoux says that there is both a “low road” and a “high road” on this dual pathway; the “low road” bypasses thinking because the emotions are immediate, while the “high road” requires thinking to perceive the emotion.

Show question

Question

What did LeDoux propose in his theory of "Threat Responses"?  

Show answer

Answer

  • Ledoux proposed that people recognize threats after experiencing emotions of fear and anxiety.
  • Ledoux theorized that people don’t always recognize threats immediately. They need to use rational thinking skills before they can decide if the threat is legitimate. 

Show question

Question

Define cognition: 

Show answer

Answer

Cognitions are thoughts or how we process our experiences and sensations.

Show question

Question

Define emotions: 

Show answer

Answer

Emotions are psychological states associated with anger, joy, envy, love, etc.

Show question

Question

What did Zajonc theorize about emotion and cognition (his theory)? 

Show answer

Answer

Zajonc theorized that emotion can be separate from cognition.

Show question

Question

How did Zajonc defend his personal beliefs about emotion not requiring cognition? 

Show answer

Answer

Zajonc defended his beliefs by asserting that:

  • Not all emotions require purposeful thinking.

  • Some emotions can occur without a cognitive analysis of them.

Show question

Question

What are subjective experiences? 

Show answer

Answer

Subjective experiences refer to the impact on human experience caused by internal emotional and cognitive processes.

Show question

Question

What was Zajonc-LeDoux's theory of emotion? 

Show answer

Answer

Zajonc and LeDoux theorized that some emotions are processed before cognition can occur, while others come after cognition.

Show question

Question

What is one pattern for the emotional process? (Answer will be put into steps). #1

Show answer

Answer

  1. A stimulus is introduced
  2. Emotion is felt
  3. The brain works on understanding the emotion

Show question

Question

What is one pattern for the emotional process? (Answer will be put into steps). #2

Show answer

Answer

  1. A stimulus is introduced
  2. The brain decides how to feel about the stimuli 
  3. Emotion is felt

Show question

Question

True or False: "Emotion" is a psychological state associated with anger, joy, envy, love, etc.

Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

Question

True or False: "Cognitions" are thoughts, or, how we process our experiences and sensations.


Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

Question

In what year was Robert B. Zajonc born in? 

Show answer

Answer

1923

Show question

Question

What type of psychologist was Zajonc? 

Show answer

Answer

Zajonc was a Social psychologist.  

Show question

Question

"Alice loves collecting dolls because her grandmother’s house always had dolls on display."

The example above is an example of which theory created by Zajonc? 

Show answer

Answer

Mere-Exposure Effect 

Show question

Question

What did Zajonc based his concept of the "Mere-Exposure Effect on"? 

Show answer

Answer

Zajonc based this idea on examples of social behavior that included connections between thoughts and feelings.

Show question

Question

True or False: Zajonc’s "Mere-Exposure Effect" is the concept that people gravitate towards certain objects because of previous exposure to that object. 

Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

Question

Which of the following is NOT an example of Zajonc's "Mere-Exposure Effect"? 

Show answer

Answer

Victoria has never tried Durian (an Asian fruit), but she decides that she enjoys the flavor after trying it for the first time. 

Show question

Question

JJ notices that she tends to study better when she is in the library with others around her.

The example above is an example of which theory created by Zajonc?  

Show answer

Answer

Social Facilitation 

Show question

Question

Which of the following is NOT an example of Zajonc's "Social Facilitation"? 

Show answer

Answer

Cassandra hates public speaking because she always gets nervous when people stare at her. 

Show question

Question

In what year was Joseph E. LeDoux born? 

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Answer

1949

Show question

Question

What type of scientist was LeDoux? 

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Answer

LeDoux was a neuroscientist. 

Show question

Question

Ledoux's studies mainly revolved around mental processes and emotions. What was his primary focus? 

Show answer

Answer

LeDoux's primary focus was understanding fear and anxiety.

Show question

Question

(Refer to LeDoux's "Dual Pathways"). Which "road" bypasses thinking because the emotions are immediate. 

Show answer

Answer

The "low road"

Show question

Question

(Refer to LeDoux's "Dual Pathways"). Which "road" requires thinking to perceive the emotion.

Show answer

Answer

The "high road" 

Show question

Question

True or False: Zajonc also theorized that emotion can be separate from cognition. 

Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

Question

Based on Zajonc's Theory of Emotion, Zajonc believed that emotion could occur without what? 

Show answer

Answer

Cognitive Appraisal 

Show question

Question

True or False: Zajonc and LeDoux theorized that some emotions are processed before cognition can occur, while others come after cognition.

Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

Question

True or False: Zajonc and LeDoux theorized that some emotions are processed before cognition can occur, while others come after cognition.

Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

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