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Extra info for A Guide To Improving Your Spoken English

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However, the theory that links most with LeDoux’s work is the differential emotions theory sometimes called the discrete emotions theory. Discrete emotions theory Discrete, or differential, emotions theory has been put forward by Izard (1977; 1993) Tomkins (1982) Ekman (1984) and others. These theorists resisted the ‘cognitive revolution’ of the 1960s and 1970s, and proclaimed that emotions were discrete entities, separate from though interacting with other psychological systems including cognition.

LeDoux states that the wiring of the brain favours emotion in that the connections from the emotional centres of the mid-brain to the thinking cortex are stronger than those that run in the reverse direction. This means that in many situations when an external stimulus has provoked an emotion, a person’s reaction is more governed by emotional imperatives than it is by considered thought. In an emotional situation, by definition, feelings dominate thinking. LeDoux’s most informative investigation was into fear.

The English language has about 600 words that refer in some way to emotion or feeling (Oatley & Jenkins, 1996). This variation in emotion forms part of the definitional problem. Are there universal emotions shared by all humankind, or have some societies developed their own unique emotions? This question has created much heated debate since emotions were first studied scientifically by Charles Darwin in the nineteenth century (1872), and we will return to it when we consider theories of emotion in the next chapter.

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A Guide To Improving Your Spoken English by BBC World Service


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