Emotions can be complex at times and are in most cases accompanied by the behavioral and genetics of the individual. Emotions include the physiological variations, feelings, and thoughts. Additionally, there can also be changes and facial expressions among others (Oatley and Johnson Laird, 1987). It can be observed that an individual’s level of motivations, moods and another psychological happening can be linked directly to the emotions of the individual (Scherer et al., 2001). For example, when one is walking at night alone and they hear footsteps behind them, there are expected changes and actions that will occur. The sequences of events that follow can be explained using the three major theories of emotions as outlined below.
According to the James Lange theory, an individual can experience the emotion if their body perceives that there has been a physiological response due to an external event which triggers the emotions. In the situation described above, the individual will start to shiver, breath deeper and then the body will fear for what might happen (Oatley and Johnson Laird, 1987).
On the other hand, Walter Cannon theories explain that it is still possible for people to experience emotion without a physiological stimulation. According to his theory, while the experience of emotion happens quickly, the physiological reactions may be slow. Due to that, he explains, that people might have different reactions even when they are in the same situations. When walking in the dark and hear footsteps behind, most people will tremble and their breathing will deepen. All these will happen while they experience fear (Scherer et al., 2009).
Finally, according to Stanley Schechter theory, emotion comes from the physiological triggering and the cognitive understandings of the factors. However, in this situation, the most applicable theory is the cognitive interpretations in that there will be autonomic stimulation and perceptions that people observe from that same situation (Scherer et al., 2009). Therefore, if an individual is walking at night and they hear footsteps behind them, the theory predicts that the individual will begin to tremble, have a faster heart but and then after realizing what the arousal is, they will fear. All these will be triggered by the factor that it is dark and you are all alone (Scherer et al., 2009).
Oatley, K., & Johnson-Laird, P. N. (1987). Towards a cognitive theory of emotions. Cognition and Emotion, 1(1), 29-50.
Scherer, K. R., Schorr, A., & Johnstone, T. (Eds.). (2001). Appraisal processes in emotion: Theory, methods, research. Oxford University Press.