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In regards to facial expressions and the emotion of fear research has shown that the ‘amygdala’ located in the brain is a crucial structure in the intervention of fear. The amygdale is the key structure of the brain that is connected to the emotion ‘fear’. A stimulus that is appraised to be dangerous will immediately send a signal to amygdale. The scenario is judged then the correct response by the individual is taken. Research with monkeys in the 1930’s was the introductory data that showed evidence of the amydalas important functions.

The monkeys had damage to the brain cluster and surrounding areas they displayed an ability to retract fear. Charles Darwin the famous evolutionist has also contributed significant ideology on the subject of emotion. He states that emotions (facial) play a key role in determining the relationship between mother and child. For example the smile by the mother signifies approval to the child, on the other hand a frown will signify disapproval this is the initial communication between the two and the child will learn the different emotions the mother illustrates.

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The relevant theories discussed provide sufficient evidence in the nature of emotions. However there has not been any concrete data to attribute and define emotions as a whole. William James’s theory was inconclusive because it attributed a bodily change to every emotion. This reduces the amount of emotions one can face because if you are sweating your heart rate has increased because you are happy to see someone the bodily change of heart rate would be attributed to fear.

In addition the number of emotional labels cannot be accounted for as there are only a small number of bodily changes and many emotional labels. Evolutionary, biological and cognitive perspectives have been described above however a social view can also be adopted in regards to emotion. The cross cultural studies showed that facial expressions are a universal bodily response however in terms of looking directly at the emotion of fear the potential of a dangerous situation different form culture to culture. For example those people who work in zoos or safari parks have encountered their fear of lions and bears.

However someone who has only been exposed to negative and harmful aspects of the bear would wholeheartedly fear the bear. Socialisation is the approach people are bought into the norms and values of society also has a fundamental duty in conditioning emotions. E. g. children at a young age are forced to learn about a stimulus that is branded dangerous in the society. E. g. in British society children are taught to fear strangers however in other society’s children may not be pushed into fearing adults they do not know.

The cognitive notion proposed by schacter and singer can be applied to the situation of the harmful bear. The individual will consider the impact or potential danger and make their own judgement whether a fight or flight response will be carried out. Overall the concept of emotions is very complex the different perspectives identified possible reasons behind the subject, however one can conclude that integrating each idea can guide us into the true nature of how emotions work.


Panksepp, Jaak. (1998)

Affective neuroscience : the foundations of human and animal emotions.

Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1998

Rosenzweig 2003. Biological Psychology An Introduction To Behavioural and Cognitive Neuroscience. Sinauer Associates inc.

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