Paul Ekman is an American psychologist and professor emeritus at the University of California, San Francisco who is a pioneer in the study of emotions and their relation to facial expressions. He is the creator of an “atlas of emotions” with more than ten thousand facial expressions, and has gained a reputation as the best human lie detector in the world. Ekman (buy his books from Amazon) conducted groundbreaking research on the specific biological correlations of specific emotions, demonstrating the universality and discreteness of emotions in an evolutionist Darwinian approach.
Ekman's taxonomy of Basic Emotions
The framework described by Paul Ekman is influenced by Charles Darwin and Silvan Solomon Tomkins, although he himself stated that he did not accept in tot what either of them said. Ekman sustained there are three meanings for the term “basic” as you can read his argumentation in the next quote:
Ekman considers that emotional expressions are crucial to the development and regulation of interpersonal relationships. His studies demonstrated that facial expressions play an important role in the formation of attachments and are involved in the formation, acceleration or deceleration of aggressive behaviour.
Although at first he distinguished between six basic innate emotions, Ekman added a seventh one, contempt, which he believed we acquire through learning, especially social learning. After including this culturally acquired emotion, he adapted the name of his taxonomy to Universal Emotions.
Ekman has contributed to the study of social aspects of lying, and why we lie and why we are often unconcerned with detecting lies. He first became interested in detecting lies while completing his clinical work. As detailed in Ekman’s Telling Lies: Clues to Deceit in the Marketplace, Politics, and Marriage, a patient he was involved in treating denied that she was suicidal in order to leave the hospital. Ekman began to review videotaped interviews to study people’s facial expressions while lying. In a research project along with Maureen O’Sullivan, called the Wizards Project (previously named the Diogenes Project), Ekman reported on facial microexpressions which could be used to assist in lie detection. After testing a total of 20,000 people from all walks of life, he found only 50 people who had the ability to spot deception without any formal training. These naturals are also known as “Truth Wizards”, or wizards of deception detection from behaviour.
For introductory information on the subject of emotion, please read Introduction to the theories of Emotion.
Sigmund Freud is regarded as the father of psychodynamic theories, the founder of psychoanalysis and the creator of psychosexual stages theory of human development.
Regardless of the acceptance or disapproval of his ideas about human development, his influence over psychology was enormous. During a puritan era he managed to construct a theory of unconscious motivation, of human sexuality and instinctual aggression.
William James, known as the father of American Psychology, developed along with his 19th Century fellow psychologist Carl Lange the James-Lange theory which considers that environmental events lead to the apparition of muscular and visceral responses, and that these responses eventually determine emotions. Instead of feeling an emotion and subsequent physiological (bodily) response, the theory proposes that the physiological change is primary, and emotion is after that experienced, as the brain reacts to the information received via the body’s nervous system.
The emotion follows the behaviour, and does not determine it.
Emotion represents a complex of affective states that implies conscious or unconscious experiences which lead to psychological responses that either inhibit or facilitate the motivation of behaviour.
Emotions exert an incredibly powerful force on human behavior. Strong emotions can cause you to take actions you might not normally perform or to avoid situations you enjoy. Why exactly do we have emotions? What causes us to have these feelings?
Inspired by the sociocognitive approaches to learning, Rolland Viau proposes an innovative motivation model in the context of acquiring information and completing goals.
Although the model has been initially designed for the learning student, its structures can be just as easily and successfully applied to any situation where an individual is faced with a challenge and a need to be completing a goal.
Robert Plutchik proposed a psychoevolutionary classification approach for general emotional responses. He considered there to be eight primary emotions—anger, fear, sadness, disgust, surprise, anticipation, trust, and joy. Plutchik argues for the primacy of these emotions by showing each to be the trigger of behaviour with high survival value, such as the way fear inspires the fight-or-flight response.
Erikson was a stage theorist who took Freud’s controversial theory of psychosexual development and modified it as a psychosocial theory, as he rejected the central importance of the sexual drive in favour of the progressive emergence of identity. Like Freud and many others, Erik Erikson maintained that personality develops in a predetermined order, and builds upon each previous stage. This is called the epigenetic principle.