Psychology 41495-001
Special Topics:  Theories of Emotion
Spring 2009 Tuesday-Thursday 2:15p to 3:30p
Kent Hall 076



David M. Fresco, Ph.D.



226 Kent Hall Annex


Office Hours:

TBA & By appointment


Email/Telephone: / (330) 672-4049


Course Web Page:

Assigned Texts:

Oatley, K., Keltner, D., & Jenkins, J. M. (2006). Understanding Emotions. Malden, MA:  Blackwell Publishing.  (ISBN: 1-4051-3103-9).

Kalat, J. W. & Shiota, M. N. (2007).  Emotion. Belmont, CA; Thomson. (ISBN:  0-534-61218-0).
Gross, J. J. (2007). Handbook of emotion regulation. New York: Guilford. (ISBN: 1-59385-148-0).Ekman, P. & Davidson, R. J. (1994). The Nature of Emotions. New York:  Oxford University Press. (ISBN:  0-19-508944-8).

Note: Copies of these books has been reserved for the semester in the library.


This course covers the major theoretical perspectives on emotion in the field of psychology including the scientific study of emotions in terms of their evolutionary and socio-cultural bases, an introduction to biology and affective neuroscience, and issues of research methodology.  The course will also include an overview of philosophical foundations of emotions in Western civilization as well as non-Western theories of mind and models of emotion.  Finally, the course will include an overview of the contributions from emotion theories in enriching our understanding of psychopathology and treatment of emotion disorders.  Efforts will be made to enrich the scientific study of emotion with select passages from literature, poetry, music etc. that typify the human experience of emotion.

Graded Assignments:

There will be no exams.  Rather, students will be evaluated by completing three 1.5-2.0 page reaction papers, single-spaced (60%), group poster assignment (30%), and class participation (10%). 

Reaction Papers:  A reaction paper involves reading a paper related to course material, writing a summary of the paper (0.5 pages), a critique of the paper (0.5 pages), and new theoretical or research ideas that arise for you (0.5 pages).  Each reaction paper will be worth 20 points.  Fifteen of the points are based on the quality, depth of coverage, etc.  The remaining five points will be based on the grammatical quality of your work.  Sources for the reaction papers might be a chapter from the optional Ekman and Davidson text, or some other primary source article that you clear with me first.  Students will be placed in a three-group rotation of 10 students to determine due dates of the three reaction papers.   Each paper is due on the days based on group assignment.  Papers are to be emailed to me as a MS Word (*.doc) or Rich-text Format (*.rtf). Hard copies will not be accepted. If you miss a due date because of illness or other university excused absence, you MUST leave me a message PRIOR TO the scheduled due date.  You may be required to provide documentation for this absence (e.g., a note from the doctor).  Failure to contact me, or to provide documentation for the absence if requested will result in a grade of "0" for the reaction paper. 

Poster Assignment:  The poster assignment will be a group project consisting of 3-4 students who will write and present a poster-sized paper, using a scientific conference poster style, on a topic that is approved by me.  A credible poster may only be 1500 to 2000 words.  Thus, it is imperative to come up with a good, coherent topic, and use your space wisely. I will be available for help in all stages of the poster.  The group will need to submit at least one rought draft of the poster to me as an electronic file (e.g., MS Word or MS PowerPoint). Students can supplement their poster with rich content (e.g., audio, video, etc.), but all groups must produce a standard poster.  More details/guidelines on the poster assignment will be provided later. 

Class participation:  It will be evaluated by monitoring of attendance and contribution to class discussion, bringing in poems, songs, etc. relevant to topics being discussed.



Some of the materials that I will provide for you may be audio/video files that require you to install free software on your computer. 

QuickTime from Apple Computer. 

iTunes from Apple Computer.

Adobe Acrobat Reader from Adobe.

  Podcasts: Technology willing, lectures will be recorded as enhanced podcasts that can be downloaded with iTunes, a free software title for Macintosh and Windows and/or copied to an iPod. To access the podcasts, you will need to install iTunes on a computer with a fast Internet connection, and visit Kent State’s iTunesU portal with a web browser. There you will need to provide your flashline login and password. The web browser will then bring up iTunes and then the KSU iTunes Music Store page. It’s easy, and I will demonstrate in class.

Extra Credit:

There will be a few 1-minute written assignments that will be worth 1-point each to be applied to your lowest exam grade.  You must be present to get the point.  The assignment may be to write a 1-minute opinion on some relevant topic.  Points will be applied to a reaction paper grade.




University policy 3342-3-18 requires that students with disabilities be provided reasonable accommodations to ensure their equal access to course content.  If you have a documented disability and require accommodations, please contact the instructor at the beginning of the semester to make arrangements for necessary classroom adjustments.  Please note, you must first verify your eligibility for these through Student Disability Services (contact 330-672-3391) or visit for more information on registration procedures.



Un-graded Homework Assignments

There will be a few homework assignments that I will ask you to complete, but not for a grade.  Rather, I wish to have a discussion with you as to what the experience is like.  Since emotions, by their very nature, are difficult to describe and quantify, I hope to send you home with exercises and you will be asked to report back the following class or the following week as the case may be.  You control HOW MUCH personal information will be conveyed.  However, please do your best to complete the assignment and be prepared to contribute to class discussion. 















Introduction/Structure & Function of Emotions


Introductions; In-class Exercise; Historical theories of emotions

Oatley Ch 1



Structure & Function of Emotions (Continued)


James-Lange Theory, etc.

Oatley Ch. 2



Measuring Emotions:  Body and Brain Physiology



Bodily Changes; affective neuroscience


Oatley Chs. 5-6


Measuring Emotions:  Body and Brain Physiology (Continued)

Group 1 Paper 1 Due



Measuring Emotions:  Facial Expression, Experience and Appraisal

Group 2 Paper 1 Due


Darwinian approaches to emotions; Communicating with emotion; facial expressions; Cognition, emotion processing

Oatley Ch. 4


Emotion Regulation

Group 3 Paper 1 Due


How we exert control over our emotions

Gross Ch 1



Emotion Regulation (Continued)

Group 2 Paper 2 Due


Emotions across the lifespan


Oatley Ch. 8; Kalat Ch. 4


East meets West:  Western philosophy/Buddhist theory of mind

Group 3 Paper 2 Due


Western philosophical underpinnings of emotion (e.g., Aristotle); comparison to Buddhistic theory of mind

Oatley Ch. 9



Emotion-Related Abilities

Group 1 Paper 2 Due


Emotional abilities and emotional intelligence (EI)




Spring Break-No Classes






Emotion Disabilities and Classification of Psychopathology


How basic research on emotion influences psychopathology, etc.


Oatley Ch. 13; Gross Ch. 27


Emotions and Anxiety Disorders

Group 3 Paper 3 Due







Emotions and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

Group 2 Paper 3 Due







Emotions and Mood Disorders

Group 1 Paper 3 Due







Emotions and Psychotic Disorders






Poster Presentations


Details and location TBA


Ideas for Reaction Papers & Poster Assignments

Models of emotion
James, W. (1884). What is an emotion?  Mind, 9, 188-205.
Cannon, W. B. (1927).  The James-Lange theory of emotions:  A critical examination and an alternative theory.  American Journal of Psychology, 39, 106-124.
LeDoux, J. (1996). The emotional brain. New York:  Simon & Schuster.

Emotion antecedents
Frijda, N.H. (1988).  The laws of emotion.  American Psychologist, 43, 349-358.
Scherer, K.R., Summerfield, A.B., & Wallbott, H.G. (1983).  Cross-national research on antecedents and components of emotion:  A progress report.  Social Science Information, 22, 355-385.
Gross, J.J., & Levenson, R.W. (1995).  Emotion elicitation using films.  Cognition and Emotion, 9, 87-108.

Emotional responses:  Faces
Rinn, W. E. (1984). The neuropsychology of facial expression:  A review of the neurological and psychological mechanisms for producing facial expressions. Psychological Bulletin, 95, 52-77.
Ekman, P. (1993). Facial expression and emotion. American Psychologist, 48, 384-392.
Keltner, D., & Anderson, C. (2000). Saving face for Darwin: The functions and uses of embarrassment. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 9, 187-192.

Emotional responses:  Feelings
Feldman Barrett, L., & Russell, J.A. (1999). The structure of current affect:  Controversies and emerging consensus. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 8, 10-14.
Russell, J.A. (2003). Core affect and the psychological construction of emotion. Psychological Review, 110, 145-172.
Myers, D.G., & Diener, E. (1995). Who is happy? Psychological Science, 6, 10-19.

Emotional responses:  Physiology
Sapolsky, R.M. (1998). Why zebras don't get ulcers (2nd ed.). New York: W.H. Freeman.
Levenson, R. W. (1988).  Emotion and the autonomic nervous system:  A prospectus for research on autonomic specificity.  In H. Wagner (Ed.), Social psychophysiology:  Perspectives on theory and clinical applications (pp. 17-42). London: Wiley.
Cacioppo, J. T., Klein, D. J., Berntson, G. G., & Hatfield, E. (1993). The psychophysiology of emotion. In M. Lewis & J. M. Haviland (Eds.), Handbook of emotions (pp. 119-142). New York: Guilford.
Davidson, R.J. (1993). The neuropsychology of emotion and affective styleIn M. Lewis & J.M. Haviland (Eds.), Handbook of emotions (pp. 143-154).  New York:  Guilford Press.
LeDoux, J. E. (2000). Emotion circuits in the brain. Annual Review of Neuroscience, 23, 155-184.

Functions of emotion
Tooby, J., & Cosmides, L. (1990). The past explains the present:  Emotional adaptations and the structure of ancestral environments. Ethology and Sociobiology, 11, 375-424. 
Levenson, R.W. (1999). The intrapersonal functions of emotion. Cognition and Emotion, 13, 481-504.
Fridlund, A.J. (1994).  Human facial expression:  An evolutionary view.  San Diego, CA:  Academic Press.
Averill, J.R. (1980). A constructivist view of emotion.  In R. Plutchik & H. Kellerman (Eds.), Emotion: Theory, research, and experience (pp. 305-339).  New York:  Academic Press.

Emotion regulation
Gross, J.J. (2002). Emotion regulation:  Affective, cognitive, and social consequences. Psychophysiology, 39, 281-291
Baumeister, R. F., Muraven, M., & Tice, D. M. (2000). Ego depletion:  A resource model of volition, self-regulation, and controlled processing. Social Cognition, 18, 130-150.
Mischel, W., Shoda, Y., & Rodriguez, M. L. (1989). Delay of gratification in children. Science, 244, 933-9.38

Other papers available in our iTunesU feed.