Lazarus claims that because our emotional state follows our cognitive evaluation of a situation, cognition precedes biology when it comes to emotions. According to him, we feel angry when the situation is relevant and we think someone is responsible for it.
LeDoux, on the other hand, states that even if emotion is based on cognitive processing, it is not proven that all such processing is conscious. In fact, the evaluation of a situation takes place prior to conscious awareness and only the results of the evaluation (emotions) are made conscious (emotions). Because of this LeDoux argues that physiological events precede cognitive ones when it comes to primitive emotions (fear, anger, joy...)
Both Lazarus and LeDoux claim that emotions and memory are in different parts of the brain but are closely related. However, Lazarus says that for any biological process to start, there has to be some form of cognition while LeDoux says that the biological process happens first because of human instincts and the evolutionary process.
Potential effects of Trauma: PTSD
- PTSD could potentially interfere with normal development and if untreated can cause emotional numbness, avoidant behavior or hyper-vigilance.
- Carion et al. (2009): performed fMRI scans and found that children suffering from PTSD after experiencing extreme stressors, such as abuse, performed worse on a simple verbal memory test and showed less hippocampal activity compared to a control group. Those who performed worst on the test typically had difficulties remembering the trauma, felt cut off from others and showed lack of emotion,
Potential effects of Deprivation: Cognitive impairment & Attachment Disorder
- The English and Romanian Adoptees Study: longitudinal study of 324 Romanian adoptees that entered the UK. The researchers investigated potential long-term effects of severe deprivation in childhood, as all adoptees were found in very deprived Romanian institutions. Cognitive impairment was found in 15.4% of the Romanians and only 2.3% in the UK adoptees. There was a persistent cognitive deficit at age six in the children who remained longest in the deprived Romanian institutions before being adopted. These children also had a much smaller head circumference at the time they entered the UK and this could also be observed at age six. This could suggest neural damage. As for attachment disorder, data was collected through semi-structured interviews with parents to assess the child's behavior towards the parents and other adults. There was a correlation found between the amount of time spent in the deprived institution and percentage of children who displayed attachment disorder. The majority of the children, however, did not exhibit cognitive impairment and disinhibited attachment, and those who did suffer showed a great deal of recovery over time.
The Theory of Psychosocial Development: (Erikson, 1968)
- states that the individual develops through a series of stages from birth to death. There are 8 stages of social development. In each stage there exists a conflict/battle that must be internally fought.
- The 5th stage deals with adolescence, as it is the stage of identity crisis marked by rapid growth and hormonal changes (ages 12-18)
~ These body changes can be confusing as the adolescent has to search for a new sense of continuity and question sexuality, future occupation, etc. This is called moratorium (time to experience different possibilities)
~ If the identity crisis is solved successfully, the adolescent will feel confident about his or her own identity and future.
~If the identity crisis is not solved successfully, the adolescent may join a subgroup and develop a negative or socially unacceptable identity.
- Espin et al (1990) supports Erikson's theory. The researchers performed a content analysis of 71 letters from a Latin-American girl, whose parents had been arrested, to her teacher over a period of nine years, between the ages of 13 and 22. Themes of identity appeared in the earlier letters, and increased from the ages of 13 to 18 years, but then declined. This confirms that issues of identity were prominent in this period, as predicted by Erikson.
- Rutter et al. (1976) challenged Erickson's theory. Aim was to investigate the concept of developmental crisis in a representative sample of adolescents. All adolescents on the Isle of Wight aged between 14 and 15 participated in the study. Data was collected with questionnaires and interviews from parents, teachers, and the adolescents. Only a minority (1/5) of the adolescents showed signs of crisis or conflict with parents and this was mostly related to psychiatric problems. This is not in line with predictions of the theory of psychosocial development.
- Evaluation of the theory: the theory is Western biased, the stage theory is based on the assumption that development is universal and sequential